Commentary

Herzlich states case with Giants

Puts in solid performance against the Patriots in bid for roster spot

Updated: September 2, 2011, 11:20 AM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With the New York Giants in town for Thursday's exhibition finale against the New England Patriots, Boston College product Chris Snee suggested he might drop by the Eagles' season-opener against Northwestern on Saturday in Chestnut Hill.

Rookie linebacker Mark Herzlich doesn't have the luxury of such an option.

"Uh, Chris Snee has a little bit different schedule than me," Herzlich said. "I don't think he's worried about his phone ringing on Saturday."

[+] EnlargeMark Herzlich
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesMark Herzlich, on his bid to make the Giants' roster: "[Thursday] was my last opportunity to prove something. If I did, great; If I didn't, then that means I have to work harder to try to make another team."

Yes, Snee, a Pro Bowler in each of the past three seasons, is unlikely to have his named attached when the Giants -- and the rest of the NFL -- submit final roster cuts by Saturday's afternoon deadline. Teams must pare their rosters from 80 to 53 players, and an undrafted free agent like Herzlich finds himself on the Giants' bubble.

"It will be nerve-wracking, but at the same time it is kind of like anything that I do, you try to put it all out there and then there are things that you can control and you can't control," Herzlich said. "Right now, I can't control what happens. [Thursday] was my last opportunity to prove something. If I did, great; if I didn't, then that means I have to work harder to try to make another team.

"At least I got to prove myself out here for the last five weeks. ... I didn't say, 'Ooh, I am going to get drafted.' And I am not going to get my hopes up right now either. You got to hope for the best."

By now his story is well known: Herzlich was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a form of cancer that can attack bones, following the 2008 season. He sat out an entire season before returning for his senior year at BC in 2010. Despite being cancer-free, he went undrafted, but latched on with the Giants at the start of training camp.

With his mother, girlfriend and a handful of friends comprising a small group of about 10 supporters at Gillette on Thursday ("Hey, I got an undrafted free-agent salary, they can buy the tickets," Herzlich joked about demand to see him play), he recorded a sack in his final chance to make an impression.

Said Giants coach Tom Coughlin: "Outstanding young man, a special guy to work with, does whatever you ask him to do, loves to play, loves to practice. And he has been impressive in the preseason."

Is that enough to earn him a roster spot? An injury to linebacker Clint Sintim might actually aid his cause, but Herzlich didn't want someone else's misfortune to be his gain.

"I didn't even think about that when Clint went down," Herzlich said. "I was in the game and I didn't know what was going on or how serious it was. At the same time, count people, Clint goes down, you still got eight or nine linebackers. You have to make headway.

"I thought I did well. I made some physical plays," he added. "I made some good plays, had a couple of mistakes here and there, which I try to correct moving forward. You just got to move on from them and you can't harp on them but at the same time watch them on film and get better."

Herzlich admits he's still getting his mind and body on the same page.

"It is starting to feel natural," Herzlich said. "For a while last season, it was kind of like, all right, my brain thinks I can get there, but my body is not really getting there. And now that it is all coming together, I want to come around the edge and I am coming around the edge. So it's progress."

Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York contributed to this report.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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