On the day of their first padded practice, the Giants got some reassurance at a position they addressed.
That is, linebacker and an outside pass rusher, ideally from the same spot.
Third-round pick Lorenzo Carter and free-agent signing Connor Barwin provided the team with those reassuring thoughts.
Carter, the third-round pick from Georgia has been in the Giants’ sights since before they draft, and they reportedly tried to draft higher to get him. So far by all accounts, Carter has lived up to his hype.
He could be a key to replace the void left by the trade of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who lead the team with 8.5 sacks last season.
“One of his redeeming qualities is he’s an excellent edge player,” said head coach Pat Shurmur about Carter. “But you also have to be able to work in conjunction with line stunts. Those are things we’re trying to get out of him. He’s a big athlete that’s very long. He’s just working through it.”
The 6-5, 246-pound Carter gives the Giants the size and speed they have been seeking, as he had 14 sacks in 54 games at Georgia.
“You definitely can tell when you’re doing it right just theway things happen,” said Carter. “You can tell when your eyes are in the right place and your movements are doing the right things. I just try to keep doing what I’m doing. Try to keep getting that feeling because that’s the thing you just want to let the coaches know that you can continuously do it.”
Barwin, who gained notoriety as a pass rusher with the Eagles, was signed as a free agent after playing last season with the Rams. At age 31, Barwin apparently hasn’t lost his game. He has 55 career sacks entering the season.
A big reason Barwin signed with the Giants is his reunion with linebackers coach Bill McGovern, who worked with him in Philadelphia. While there with him, Barwin had 25 sacks.
With returning veteran Olivier Vernon and offseason acquisition Alec Ogletree, the Giants linebacking corps in their new 3-4 alignment quickly is rounding into shape.
“I am happy to be back with him (McGovern) and to be with this group of guys,” said Barwin recently. “I see myself as a pass rusher and to be a veteran leader here and mentor the younger guys.”
Barwin has made an instant connection with Carter.
“I love Connor,” said Carter. “Once he got in here I just saw that he is a tenured vet. I’ve learned as much as I can from him. He knows the recipe, he has the formula, so it would be ignorant of me not to follow him and do everything he does.”