Previously I had written that I thought the third linebacker spot was Clint Sintim’s to lose. Apparently the coaching staff thinks differently. Currently Mathias Kiwanuka is taking the first-team snaps at linebacker, and the Giants intend to start him there at the beginning of the season.
While this was not my expectation, I can’t say that I’m really surprised. Kiwankuka had a similar role last season, and was making a big impact before his injury. I understand that was in a very limited amount of time, but the coaching staff has always been confident that Kiwanuka can make the transition to linebacker, and I am sure Perry Fewell will make sure that Kiwanuka’s primary role will still involve taking the opposing quarterback down.
As for Sintim, you have to wonder if this means the coaching staff has lost confidence in him. Recently linebackers coach Jim Hermann has come out to say that isn’t the case, but there must be some truth to it. If Sintim was performing at the level his draft status indicates, the coaching staff would want to do anything in their power to get him on the field. The fact that the Giants would rather give the snaps to Kiwanuka, even though Osi Umenyiora is currently on the sidelines, has to indicate some kind of displeasure with where Sintim currently is in his development.
As for Osi, this move indicates to me that the Giants are confident he will be on the field for them opening day. If they had any reservations about that, they would have Kiwanuka taking snaps at defensive end since he is the logical replacement for Osi in the starting lineup.