Mark Herzlich will be seeing action on the offensive side of the ball in 2017.
The former New York Giants linebacker officially changed his number from 94 to 44, meaning he will get some action at the tight end position.
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Herzlich says he was the one who put the idea in head coach Ben McAdoo’s head about using him on offense.
“I was like, ‘Hey, I can learn it’,” he said. “He has an idea that if you are a JPP (defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul), you know you’re a D-end. For the majority of guys on the team, the ability to do more than one thing is really beneficial to not only the player, but the team in general.
“I think that’s something he believes to his core. I told him, I would like to learn some more of the tight end stuff. He was open to it.”
There is no way McAdoo’s predecessor, Tom Coughlin, would’ve been open to one of his linebackers converting to tight end. Coughlin is old school like chalkboards and black and white film.
Herzlich’s conversion to tight end may be his best shot to continue his NFL career.
The former Boston College standout began his NFL career as a projected starter at the middle linebacker position.
This didn’t work out for him. In later years, Herzlich became a key contributor on special teams.
Last season, Herzlich only played 15 snaps on defense. He is not bothered by the number change.
“In high school I was 22,” Herzlich said. “I don’t know why I like even numbers, but from 94 it was easy to switch to 44. I only had to change one of my numbers. It doesn’t have any real significance to me. It was a 40 number that was available.”
He joins a tight end squad that includes last year’s starter Will Tye, Jerell Adams, Matt LaCosse, free agent signee Rhett Ellison, and first-round pick Evan Engram.
Football players of a different era routinely played offense and defense. Herzlich was right. Versatility will not only prolong his professional career but make the Giants better overall.