EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Giants knew they were returning almost all of their starters from last year's outstanding defense, but there was one player that Damon "Snacks" Harrison just wasn't sure about.
"I told him coming into this offseason that I wasn't a full believer in B.J. Goodson," Harrison said of the Giants new starting middle linebacker. "He was just a young guy at middle linebacker. You have to know everything. You have to get people in the right spots. He only played like 12 snaps last year so we didn't get a chance to see him. … It was just yet to be seen."
Then the 24-year-old Goodson had a strong offseason where he took control of a veteran-heavy defensive team. And then on opening night, during a 19-3 loss in Dallas, he was a dominant defensive force, making 18 tackles. Like all of the best middle linebackers the Giants have had, Goodson was all over the field.
So now how does Snacks feel about his young teammate?
"I told him even before this game he made me a believer," Harrison said. "I'm a 1,000 percent believer in B.J. Goodson. And that was before you guys saw what you saw. We already knew that."
That sums up the opinion of just about everyone in the Giants organization of the 6-1, 243-pound Goodson, who was a fourth-round pick out of Clemson in 2016. The Giants thought he had a lot of potential last year to maybe even compete for a starting job right away, before injuries set him back early in the season. He ended up playing mostly on special teams.
But the Giants had no problem handing over their middle linebacking duties to him right at the start of this spring. And against the Cowboys it was clear their decision paid off.
"Yeah, I mean B.J. ran around," said Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. "The stats say he made a lot of plays, which he did. That's what you expect the Mike linebacker to do."
"B.J.'s made a lot of progress," Ben McAdoo added. "Each week is a new challenge for a young player and we look forward to him learning from last week's game and gaining some confidence and being ready for this week. I have a lot of confidence in B.J."