New York Giants Suffer Major Blow to Linebacking Corp

Giants release LB Ryan Connelly

Getty Giants LB Ryan Connelly

Not much has gone wrong for the New York Giants on the playing field the past two weeks. New York is 2-0 since inserting rookie quarterback Daniel Jones into their starting lineup. However, while they continue to win, injuries are beginning to pile up for the now second-place team in the NFC East.

First, it was stud running back Saquon Barkley a week ago, this week it was a rookie linebacker out of Wisconsin coming into his own and beginning to flash.

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Ryan Connelly Tears ACL

In a season where the New York Giants defense has been an utter disappointment throughout much of the first four weeks of the year, there has been one consistent bright spot. That bright spot is none other than fifth-round draft pick Ryan Connelly.

The rookie started the 2019 season on the bench behind Tae Davis. However, Connelly quickly worked his way up the depth chart, staking claim to the starting linebacker gig across from Alec Ogletree. Connelly made his first start in Week 2 vs. the Buffalo Bills and hasn’t looked back since. 

Connelly enjoyed his best game as a pro this past Sunday vs. the Redskins. Connelly tallied five tackles, one sack, and an interception. The ‘Skins could do nothing to slow down the Giants’ new lead man in the middle of their defense, however, injury could, and injury did.

Connelly suffered a knee injury during Week 4’s contest, and while New York remained optimistic through the night, they broke the news Monday morning that all Giants fans were dreading. Ryan Connelly suffered a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of his rookie campaign.

How Will G-Men Replace Connelly

Giants are currently in quite the predicament when it comes to having bodies at their inside linebacker spot. New York was already without Alec Ogletree (hamstring) and Tae Davis (concussion) prior to the devastating loss of Connelly.

The Giants traded away former starting linebacker BJ Goodson to the Green Bay Packers prior to the start of the regular season. The move was made partly due to underwhelming play, as well as freeing up playing time for Connelly. However, New York probably wishes they didn’t pull the trigger on that move as we sit here today.

The next men up on the Giants depth chart include Nate Stupar and David Mayo. Stupar, mostly a special teams player over his seven-year career, is not a player you’d like to be getting a high number of snaps as your starting linebacker. Mayo, on the other hand, performed admirably vs. the ‘Skins on Sunday, accounting for eight tackles. He will likely be the one who is thrust into starting duties for the foreseeable future unless New York brings in someone capable of unseating him in the defensive lineup.

The free-agent pool is fairly dry in terms of linebacking talent at the moment. The most glaring name on the market is a player who has done some great things in the NFL.

As we all saw on Hard Knocks, former pro-bowler Brandon Marshall was cut by the Oakland Raiders during the preseason. Marshall struggled coming back from a knee injury that caused him to miss five games the season prior. However, Marshall proclaimed himself healthy and is currently looking for work. He is just two years removed from a 100-tackles season. Marshall would be a brilliant addition to the Giants defense, and would immediately step in and be one of, if not the best, linebackers on their roster. Although New York will have to act quickly if they want to add him to their team, as Marshall’s former team the Raiders just lost linebacker Vontaze Burfict to a year-long suspension. Oakland may look to bring back a familiar face to fill the void.

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