It’s not always easy for a newcomer to step right in and make a contribution to an NFL team.
However, the New York Giants have hit a lucky streak with three recent additions that have come from other systems, all three of whom contributed to the team’s first win of the 2013 season Monday night against Minnesota.
The biggest example of a change for the better is the addition of middle linebacker Jon Beason, who was acquired in a trade with the Panthers on Oct. 4.
Beason has twice now been the team leader in tackles, and has shown good sideline-to-sideline speed that has helped shore up the defense at the second level against the run and against passes coming out of the backfield.
“He’s a pro’s pro,” said head coach Tom Coughlin, who this week signed off on allowing Beason to wear the radio in his helmet and make the defensive calls. “When you listen to him you know there’s confidence there. He is bright eyed, he’s energetic. He’s done a very nice job in a short amount of time.”
Beason, whose promising career in Carolina was sidetracked by a knee injury for which he had microfracture surgery, believes that he has only begun to pick up where he left off before his injury.
“I know there’s so much more that I can do,” he said last week. “From a physical standpoint, whenever you’re coming back from an injury, not being able to practice, you miss those reps, the time in the weight room, the conditioning factor, all that stuff showed up in that game, but where there’s a will, there’s a way so you just try to go out and play the best you can.”
Another player who stepped right in is running back Peyton Hillis, whom the Giants signed last week. Despite having just three days of practice, Hillis, who ran for 36 yards on 18 carries, looked like he spent months learning the Giants’ playbook as he was effective in his blitz pickups.
“He was a very welcome addition and I think he went out on the field, fit right in and did some good things,” Coughlin said.
Hillis, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2010 for the Browns and the winner of the Madden 2012 video game cover by fan vote, has described his fall from the crow’s nest as a “humbling experience.”
While there was a lot to like about Hillis’ Giants debut, the sixth-year veteran wasn’t resting on his laurels.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement on my side,” he said after the game. “I think that I did some things to help the team win and other things, I didn’t.”
Last but not least, there is fullback John Conner, who was signed as a free agent after Week 3 when starter Henry Hynoski suffered a broken shoulder.
Conner, who spent two seasons with the Jets before being released after a string of injuries, signed with the Bengals toward the end of last season. This summer, he lost his battle for a roster spot to tight end Orson Charles, and was out of football until the Giants came calling.
“John Conner continues to lead the ballcarriers on any type of lead play with some physical prowess,” said Coughlin of his quiet, yeoman-like lead blocker who has helped pave the way for the Giants’ last three rushing touchdowns.
Besides the contributions these newcomers are making on the field, Coughlin believes that their respective performances serve as an inspiration to their teammates.
“To be able to come in a short amount of time and complement your team and play well and contribute, it’s a huge positive,” he said. “I think it does breed confidence and it does breed the idea that there is something perhaps we didn’t have that now we have.
“I think the young men that you’re referring to have, in their own way, inspired others and I hope that will continue.”