The linebacking keys belong to Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams now that Michael Boley has been released.
Bronx native and now former New York Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty was in great spirits upon his arrival at the Thurman Munson Awards Dinner at midtown Manhattan's Grand Hyatt Hotel Tuesday February 5, only to be alerted that Michael Boley had just been released—ironically, Canty would be let go less than 24 hours later.
In that tiny window of time between learning of Boley being cut and finding out about his own ill fate, Canty preached the following to reporters:
We're gonna have to do something, that's a little bit of a shock to the system. He's a terrific football player, he brings speed to our defense, has the ability to cover tight ends and those slot players that give us some trouble. He can cover running backs out of the backfield man-to-man, so he gives our defense a lot of versatility. To have to replace a guy like that is going to be tough. Those guys don't come a dime a dozen in the National Football League.
All of sudden, honoring Canty for his charitable work in the community was put on the back burner, and the barrage of questions about the state of the Big Blue defense started flying.
When asked about who must step up—specifically the young but not-so-young Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams, Canty issued this statement:
Well they're not young anymore. They're not young anymore. They've got to come up and they've got to step up and they've got to play. They got to perform. You can only ride that young label out, or that potential label out for so long. You got to step up to the plate and you got to perform, and that goes for everybody on our football team. We can't rest on our laurels, we can't rest on past accomplishments. We got to have that hunger in our bellies again.
Canty sounded like a leader who was passionate about resurrecting the Giants defense in 2013, but his message last Tuesday either didn't make it to general manager Jerry Reese, or it didn't resonate.
Reese consequently shed $10.75 million in salary-cap space for 2013 by dumping Boley and Canty but removed two defensive veterans who contributed to winning Super Bowl XLVI in the process.
Two linebackers to benefit most from Boley's exodus.
The Giants' front office and fans can only hope that Paysinger and Williams took advantage of being around Boley the past two seasons, because both men will now be watched closer than ever in the fishbowl that is New York.
While Paysinger played in all 16 games in 2012, he only started three of them.
Williams may have shown the potential for a higher ceiling than Paysinger, but the injuries he suffered in 2012 pose a minor concern.
Williams also hasn't started more than three games in a single season.
2013 will be the third year for both players, and the Giants have a lot riding on the two relatively inexperienced linebackers.
Defensive tackle gets his window.
The hole that Canty leaves on the defensive line will give Marvin Austin the playing time he has been waiting for since the G-Men drafted him 52nd overall in 2011.
Austin missed all of 2011 after mutilating his pectoral muscle, and he had very limited playing time in 2012—amassing eight tackles in eight games.
As Austin previously stated in that New York Times piece in September 2012, he is just waiting for his chance and to make the most out of it: "I want to earn my pay like everyone else, he said. I didn’t come in here just to hang out with the guys. I came here to get out there and perform."
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To this point in Austin's young football career, the former North Carolina Tarheel is best known for having been a second-team all-conference player as a junior in college and being guilty of taking improper benefits, forcing him to sit out his senior season.
Reese obviously saw Austin as a raw talent with huge potential when he drafted him, and now Austin has to justify Reese's decision.
Austin, Paysinger and Williams are all 24 years old and will be thrust into playmaker positions in 2013.
The respective obstacles each have faced in their first two years have been well documented, but opportunities in the NFL are fleeting.
Their impending fate and impact next season is 100 percent under their control, and New York is watching.