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A homecoming for Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich

09.02.11 at 12:19 am ET
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Mark Herzlich (left) battles Patriot Tracy White on a kickoff during Thursday night's preseason game in Foxboro. (AP)

FOXBORO — Thursday night was a homecoming of sorts for Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich.

After spending the last half-decade at Boston College, the cancer survivor returned to New England as a member of the Giants. Herzlich, signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent, was glad to return to the area and get to play in front of many friends.

“Boston has been my home for the past five years,” he said following the Giants’ 18-17 win Thursday night. “The people have been great to me, the fans have been awesome. Coming back here was a treat. The stars align sometimes, it’s my birthday, and coming back to Boston for my fourth preseason game, it really was a blessing to be playing out there.”

Herzlich turned 24 on Thursday, but said he was all business and won’t do any celebrating until Sunday passes and he is still on the roster. Over the course of the weekend, NFL rosters will be cut from 80 players to 53.

“I did nothing else,” he said. “I slept a lot during the day and got ready for the game. We’re taking a plane back right now and I will go right to sleep. Some guys now and then wished me happy birthday, but it is what it is. I will celebrate after I make the roster — hopefully by Sunday I still will have ‘New York Giants’ on my resume. Then, I’ll celebrate.”

He did admit that he will be a little nervous this weekend, but he knows that he has done everything he could do to make the final roster.

“It’s nerve-wracking, for sure,” Herzlich said. “You go out there and put it all on the field, and try and prove yourself the past four or five weeks and it comes down to a numbers game. You have to hope that you’re on the right side, and if you’re not you need to put a lot of good stuff on film for a team to pick you up.”

The linebacker did contribute in the game Thursday and in doing so made a strong case for himself to make the team. Herzlich had a tackle and a crucial sack late in the game. He also had an interception in last week’s game against the Bears.

“I think I played physical and fast,” he said. “There were some mistakes here and there, which happen, but I just have to improve on it, and hopefully it’s enough. On the sack, we had a couple of different blitzes called throughout that series, and on that one I read that my man was blocking, so I came in off the edge and he got pressure out of the pocket and he kind of just fell in my lap. It was kind of nice.”

Giants linebacker Clint Sintim ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee in the game and is expected to miss the entire season. Although Herzlich never wishes an injury upon a teammate, it could help him in making the final roster.

“Clint was a mentor for me throughout the whole preseason,” Herzlich said. “I’ve known him since 2008, when we knew each other when he was at [Virginia]. He was someone I could talk to throughout my cancer treatment. I feel really badly for him. I wish him the best.”

When asked to make his case on why he should make the team, Herzlich was perfectly clear.

“I think I can win, it is as simple as that,” he said. “I come out with intensity and fire, wherever you put me. Whether it is special teams, defense, punt block, I can going to go out there giving 100 percent. I believe my 100 percent can help the Giants win football games.”

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