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Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Giants move Keith Bulluck back to OLB

By Ohm Youngmisuk
ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Keith Bulluck has spent the majority of his first month with the New York Giants learning how to play middle linebacker.

On Monday, Bulluck was told to start practicing at outside linebacker -- where he spent the past decade with the Tennessee Titans.

The veteran's reaction was, "All right."

"At this point it doesn't matter," Bulluck said after practice. "It is a different system. So the last month or so, I've been practicing at the middle linebacker and the last two practices I have been at the outside linebacker. I just want to get out there and help and contribute and be the best linebacker I can be for this team."

Bulluck signed just before the start of training camp with the thinking that he would eventually start at middle linebacker. But Bulluck was brought along slowly by the team after undergoing surgery to repair his ACL last December.

Keith Bulluck (53)
On Saturday vs. Pittsburgh, Keith Bulluck (53) saw game action for the first time since injuring his knee last season.

Jonathan Goff has been the starter since the spring and now appears to be the man to replace Antonio Pierce if Bulluck's new home is on the outside. Now Clint Sintim has competition at outside linebacker opposite Michael Boley after going through the majority of camp without facing any challengers.

"He's played outside, he's played inside," head coach Tom Coughlin said of Bulluck. "He can play both spots. [This is] to try to find the best situational players for maybe a first-down run or something like that."

Bulluck had been practicing at middle linebacker with the second team throughout August. Last Saturday, he saw his first action on the field since December and played the middle with the first-team defense for six plays at the start of the second quarter. He looked good, making two tackles, one of them a big hit on a Pittsburgh running back.

He said the switch to playing outside linebacker is only a matter of learning different terminology. But Bulluck will have to alter his mindset, since he had been focused solely on being a middle linebacker in Perry Fewell's new defense.

"I don't know, maybe I should ask some questions to get some answers," said Bulluck, who couldn't elaborate on his move. "I am just kind of going with the flow at this point. It is not bothering me either way. I came here with the anticipation of playing linebacker somewhere and I hope that is somewhere in the organization's interest as well."

The Giants clearly want to play the best players, regardless of position. They've stated that they'll move left tackle David Diehl to left guard if William Beatty proves he can start at left tackle. And now with newly signed Shawn Andrews in camp, the Giants are trying to figure out who are the five best offensive lineman to start.

They also have started Ahmad Bradshaw at running back in place of Brandon Jacobs.

The Giants have used defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka repeatedly at linebacker and moved defensive tackle Chris Canty to defensive end in certain defensive alignments. Coughlin said Bulluck's move is not an indication of how Sintim is doing. It also seems to have nothing to do with Bulluck's surgically repaired ACL, which the veteran insists is perfectly fine.

But Coughlin admitted that if Bulluck's move creates competition, that would be beneficial for the team. He praised Sintim for playing better in the team's second preseason game and attacking the line of scrimmage.

"Why not?" Sintim said of moving Bulluck to outside linebacker. "We can always use more help, especially with a guy like him who has played the position for so long. You can only benefit from somebody who has played the position."

The way the Giants see it, they can benefit from their players moving around and playing multiple positions after having so many players injured last season. Bulluck says he just wants to play as much as possible, no matter where that is.

"If I am a starter on this defense, that is what I have been working towards with the limited reps that I have had," he said. "If I'm not, I feel like I'm too talented not to play. We will see, it's a long season."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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