- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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About being one of the final cuts on Saturday?
Mark Herzlich has had to deal with cancer. And he beat it.
So if there's anyone equipped to deal with cuts, it's the 24-year-old man who had to deal with chemo.
"When you put it in that sense, I guess I'm not gonna have as much stress," Herzlich said Friday, the day before the Giants cut down to 53 players before their regular-season opener in Washington next Sunday. "When you're going from seeing if the biopsy shows if your cancer has spread to other parts of your body or getting cut from the team ... both are very stressful, but life or death is a little bit worse."
Still, Herzlich wants to be a part of the Giants roster this season. The undrafted rookie linebacker out of Boston College hopes he's done enough to make it -- but at this point, it's beyond his control.
"It’s nerve-wracking," said Herzlich, who had six tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and an interception during the preseason. "I do feel like I've done what I could and I've let it all out there. But at the same time, I never feel satisfied with anything. I always wanna get better. I’m never comfortable.
"I hope I’ve done enough, but it’s not really in my control anymore. Right now I can’t control what happens. [Thursday night] was my last opportunity to prove something. If I did, great. If [not], that means I have to work harder to try to make another team."
Herzlich said he doesn’t know where he stands at this point, but he certainly caught the eye of his head coach.
"He’s an outstanding young man," Tom Coughlin said. "He’s a special guy to work with and he does what you ask him to do. He loves to play, loves to practice and he’s been impressive in the preseason."
On Friday night, Mathias Kiwanuka is taking some of the Giants’ rookie linebackers -- including Herzlich -- out to dinner.
"It’s to keep our minds off Saturday’s cuts and keep the stress down," Herzlich said. "That should be fun."
Ultimately, Herzlich believes that if he makes the team, it’s going to be as a contributor on special teams, which he has plenty of experience with dating back to his BC days.
"We have guys that are at the starting positions right now," Herzlich said of the linebacking core that features Jonathan Goff, Michael Boley and Kiwanuka. "In the NFL, there’s not a lot of rotation, so at this point you gotta really make an impact on special teams and show them that you can do that."
Herzlich knows that he has received a lot of attention because he’s a cancer survivor, but he’s glad the decision whether he makes the team is going to be based solely on football.
"I’ve tried not to have it follow me around as much, when you’re coming in as a rookie especially," Herzlich said. "You don’t want to draw a lot of attention to yourself. You want to stand out in practice in any way you can on the field."