EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) After getting a handful of plays as a rookie, B.J. Goodson seemingly is starting the season as the New York Giants middle linebacker.
A fourth-round draft pick out of Clemson a year ago, Goodson has been working with the first team defense since organized team activities in the offseason and nothing changed through minicamp and now training camp.
Coach Ben McAdoo likes what he sees in Goodson, especially his willingness to hit.
Goodson knocked down receiver Sterling Shepard on the first play after the team put on pads, and he got a hit on Orleans Darkwa on Thursday. Neither opponent seemed to appreciate the hit.
That was OK with McAdoo. He has repeatedly said he wants a heavy-handed defense and Goodson can give him that in the base package.
He will likely not be on the field in passing situations with the Giants having a plethora of solid defensive backs.
''That's a big part of my game. I've always been that way, and it probably won't ever change,'' Goodson said of the physical nature of his game. ''That's just me.''
Goodson did not get a chance to show much last season. He finished with nine tackles, seven on special teams, and a forced fumble.
Kelvin Sheppard started 11 games at middle linebacker last season. The other five games, the Giants opened with an extra back instead of a middle linebacker.
New York did not re-sign Sheppard in the offseason and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has opted to with Goodson instead of veterans Keenan Robinson and Mark Herzlich in the base defense.
Goodson has spent months learning to call the defense and get a feel for playing with veterans like Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison in front of him. He has been tutored by former Giants middle linebacker Antonio Pierce.
''AP has been helping me out a lot on being more of just a vocal leader and having to stand for the defense and being a strong leader,'' Goodson said. ''Be that guy that the rest of the defense has to look up to, especially when times get rough.''
Goodson said his goal for training camp is to improve a little each day, whether it's with his footwork or using his hands. He also wants his teammates to see him as a leader.
''I've been preparing to be the starter ever since I got here,'' the 24-year-old said. ''I didn't get a chance to start my rookie year, but day in and day out, I've been preparing like the starter, like I said, when I got here. The opportunity has come.''
NOTES: Friday's workout was a light day and several veterans, including Eli Manning, got the day off. Well, almost. McAdoo had Manning call plays for the offense. ''We wanted to give him a chance to stay dialed in mentally, and get those mental reps.'' ... The practice will pick up Saturday with team working on all downs, distances and situations except the 2:00 drill. McAdoo said there would be no live tackling. ''We'll have a bunch of thud periods.''
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL