Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Giant Lb Kennard Excelling

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Giant Lb Kennard Excelling

Article excerpt

EAST RUTHERFORD -- Devon Kennard has made plenty of noise with his pads this summer, opening eyes as a physical presence unafraid to deliver big hits.

That happened again Wednesday when the linebacker from USC shed two blockers, shot through the line of scrimmage and leveled teammate Andre Williams in the backfield with a shrug of his left shoulder, as if to say: "Not this time, rookie."

Yet Kennard is a rookie himself, and that point often is forgotten because of the way he has stepped on the field and picked things up like a seasoned pro.

That is not lost on Kennard, whose most impressive moment in his NFL career so far unfolded in silence before the Giants' preseason victory over the Steelers at MetLife Stadium on Saturday.

One of the first players on the field, Kennard took a knee on the league's shield logo midfield at MetLife and stayed there alone for nearly three minutes, pressing the pause button on his rapid ascension in appreciation of where he was.

"This is a dream come true for me and getting the chance to go to the middle of the field before every game, soak in the whole stadium, say a little prayer and get prepared," said Kennard, one of the Giants' two 2014 fifth-round draft picks. "It's the mental thing that gets me ready and locked in for the day.

"This is going to be home for me for, God willing, a long time, and first time playing in there as a New York Giant, it was a special feeling. I'm learning every day, in games and in practice. It's a constant evolution and I'm taking it one day at a time."

When former All-Pro Jon Beason injured his foot in spring workouts, Kennard jumped in at middle linebacker with the first team and has not looked back. When Jameel McClain shifted from strong side to replace Beason, who still is aiming for a Sept. 8 return in the Giants' season opener at Detroit, Kennard stepped into his spot and has run with the starters ever since. …

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