EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The New York Giants have cut middle linebacker and leading tackler Jameel McClain, leaving the defense with a possible problem heading into the season opener against Dallas.
McClain, who missed some time with neck injury in training camp, lost out on the backup job to free agent longshot Uani Unga.
The move will save the Giants more than $2 million in salary, but the concern is the health of oft-injured starting middle linebacker Jon Beason, who sprained a knee in the preseason. He did some running on his own last week, but it is not known if he is ready to return to practice.
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If he can’t play, Unga probably isn’t ready to start, which would leave either J.T. Thomas or Mark Herzlich to fill in. Thomas has been playing the weakside linebacker and Herzlich is more of a special teams player.
Unga led the Giants in the preseason with 24 tackles.
”You definitely do see the potential,” Coughlin said. ”He can run, he’s physical, he’s got some skill. He’s got a deep skill level. He’s got a lot to learn about the position.”
McClain, who signed with the Giants last year, started 14 games and made a career-high 117 tackles last season, moving to the middle after Beason was lost for the season with a toe injury.
”He’ll take charge of the huddle for you, there’s no doubt about that,” Coughlin said, noting that McClain was also very positive.
The Giants also announced Saturday that fullback Henry Hynoski, one of the few remaining links to the Giants’ 2012 Super Bowl win, also had his contract terminated.
There are five players on the 53-man roster left from the last Super Bowl team – Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Prince Amukamara, Zak DeOssie and Herzlich. Jason Pierre-Paul and Will Beatty were also on the team but don’t count the 53-man because of injuries.
Receiver James Jones, cornerback Chykie Brown, safety Jeromy Miles, and linebacker Ashlee Palmer and tight end Adrien Robinson, a fourth-round draft choice in 2012, were the other most prominent cuts.
Also waived were offensive linemen Adam Gettis, Emmett Cleary, and Sean Donnelly; receiver Julian Talley; running back Kenneth Harper; quarterback Ricky Stanzi; defensive linemen Dominique Hamilton and Brad Bars; linebacker Cole Farrand; defensive backs Chandler Fenner and C.J. Conway; and kicker Chris Boswell.
Receiver Corey Washington (shoulder) was waived/injured. Safety Nat Berhe (calf) and offensive lineman Brett Jones (knee) were placed on injured reserve.
”They’re all the same, because inevitably there are guys, I don’t give a damn who you are, you become attached to them,” Coughlin said. ”They’re part of your landscape. To have some of these guys that have been here, and been through some of the really good times, to have them go, it’s not easy.”
All six of the Giants’ 2015 draft choices made the team. Ereck Flowers, Landon Collins, Owa Odighizuwa, Geremy Davis, and Bobby Hart are on the roster, and Mykkele Thompson (Achilles) is on injured reserve.
There are 16 players on the roster who were not here or did not play a game for the team in 2014.
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