Jon Beason to play vs. Lions in opener barring a setback

EAST RUTHERFORD -- The Giants were without their defensive leader all of training camp. They expect to have him back for the regular season opener on Monday night in Detroit.

Middle linebacker Jon Beason practiced Monday for the first time since fracturing his foot in June. Coach Tom Coughlin thought he looked "OK," but still expected him to play when the season begins next week.

"He just has to practice. He'll have x-amount of snaps at practice and if he comes through the practice week having handled that, then we can expect to play him whatever amount of time we decide to do it," Coughlin said. "If he stays out there, works hard and doesn't have any setbacks, then I think that is the proof right there. The medical people are very confident because of the way he's prepared himself to this point."

Beason was hurt during an Organized Team Activities workout in June. He was given a 12-week recovery time. That took him right up until the opener, with little time to spare.

Beason's right on schedule. He fully expects to play in the opener, despite not having played a single preseason snap.

"I think so," he said. "Obviously you want to gauge where I am mentally, physically and what my role is going to be -- how big, how small. We don't know, but I'm just taking advantage of the reps they're giving me and trying to prove why I need to be out there."

It sounds as if the Giants may use Beason in a limited role Week 1. Maybe that means veteran linebacker Jameel McClain, who filled in admirably for Beason this summer, handles the nickel package snaps along with weakside Jacquian Williams.

McClain is expected to slide to into the starting strongside linebacker spot ahead of rookie Devon Kennard in the Giants base defense as well.

Just having Beason on the field would be a huge plus for the Giants. It's not a coincidence that the defense transformed into a strong unit when he was acquired in a mid-season trade last year. The Giants finished eighth in total defense after an abysmal start.

Beason quickly evolved into one of the team's most respected voices and leaders. Coughlin believes having him on the field, in whatever capacity, helps.

"It definitely will," Coughlin said. "His presence on the practice field will. It's the upbeat, love to play, fly around a million miles per hour, encouraging other people to do the same or better and just how hard he plays. He shows great example by what he does. He loves the game. It's great to have him back out there."

It will be even better if he's out there for the first play on Monday night in Detroit.

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