Leadership can come in many forms. For New York Giants middle linebacker Jon Beason — who is currently mending from a broken bone and torn ligament in his foot — that doesn’t involve yelling over his teammates or foaming at the mouth.
"It’s not about the rah-rah stuff," Beason said in an interview with FOXSports.com.
In fact, it actually boils down to some simple questions.
"Do you do your job, whether you’re a rookie of a 10-year vet? Are you consistent at doing your job? If you are, you’re a leader," Beason said.
Leadership is an issue for a unit that had to replace defensive end and franchise mainstay Justin Tuck this offseason. But Beason is ready for the challenge and has a feel for what it will take to get past the loss of an important locker room presence.
"It’s always tough when you lose a guy who’s been around for a very long time," he said. "You kind of have to do it by committee. You hope you have a couple young guys who can come in and rotate and fill a void there. But I feel like I know how to create a defense and get everyone on the same page.
That’s why this year Beason will have defensive coordinator Perry Fewell in his ear calling the plays.
"I harp on that more than anything. It’s 11 guys doing one thing right at a time to have a successful play," said the ninth-year pro, who has been working with Duracell, which powers NFL teams on game days.
Speaking of doing things right, the Giants haven’t done much of that this preseason, despite the team’s 4-0 record. And while much of the chatter surrounding the team has focused on their underperforming offense, Big Blue’s D hasn’t looked much better.
The first team failed to get a sack for the fourth consecutive game against the Jets last week. They also allowed 85 yards rushing in the first half and worse, allowed QB Geno Smith to look like a rock star with his 120.2 quarterback rating. Penalties in the secondary also ran rampant.
All the while, Beason has been on the sidelines watching. Frustrating as it may be — he’s on track to play in the Giants’ regular-season opener — he’s had a great view of how the defense is shaping up. And there might be some good news.
"We realize we have a lot of talent and that’s a good thing, because when you don’t have talent you feel like it’s an uphill battle," Beason said. "When you go back and watch the games, we have moments of greatness and we would like to be more consistent and be more detailed and fine-tuned to the small things that truly make a dominant defense."
Another thing that can make a defense dominant is youth. The Giants have two emerging names that the team hopes will make that impact. One is second-year defensive end Damontre Moore, who is coming off a rookie year where he registered just 11 tackles.
However, Moore is a new man in 2014. Despite still being behind starting ends Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul, Moore registered two sacks in the Giants’ last preseason game. What’s more, he’s developing a nasty streak — he was kicked out of practice earlier this week after a scuffle with a teammate.
"Whoever my opponent is, [I want] to humiliate him in the worst way possible and come out with a win. That’s me and anyone who is a true competitor," Moore said to the New York Post. "It doesn’t matter who you are going against. You go out there and you beat him and you punish him."
Beason wants to see even more out of the Texas A&M product.
"Damontre has a ton of talent. We just got to get him to the point where we can say, ‘Hey, we trust you to be consistent all the time.’ We need him to step up and be the guy that he’s capable of because the potential is there," he said
Speaking of potential, rookie linebacker Devon Kennard brings a ton of talent to New York. He’s turned heads in camp and it’s doubtful that he’s going to sit around. He led the team with seven tackles against the Jets and had a sack the previous week against the Colts. And he’s not lacking in confidence.
"To be honest with you, I haven’t felt overwhelmed," Kennard told NorthJersey.com. "This is not an easy game, especially playing at this level … But I don’t feel overwhelmed."
Beason marvels at how polished Kennard already is.
"Obviously, he’s a specimen. Physically, he can go out and dominate," Beason said. "He’s extremely rare in terms of being a rookie. So, he’s going to contribute big time.
"Now, it’s about giving him the tools and giving him the technique, the preparation that goes into being a true professional and being a master of your craft."
With the regular season just around the corner, it’s time for the Giants as a whole to master their craft. Time is running out. While Beason has definitely felt the frustration of not being able to be out there on the field with his teammates during his recovery, he’ll be there for that first Monday night game against the Detroit Lions.
"I’m just happy I’ll be healthy enough to go out and play in the opener," he said. "At that point, it’ll be the mental preparation and I still feel like I’m in good shape and ready to go."