Bryan Kehl fighting for starting spot

Bryan Kehl fighting for starting spot

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Albany, N.J. » New York Giants backup quarterback David Carr took the snap from center, took a quick glance to the left sideline and fired a quick out.

The tight pass spiraled through the air until second-year linebacker Bryan Kehl stuck his hands up, snared the ball and took off down the sidelines with a convoy of defenders all yelling: "Don't stop! Keep going!"

Kehl obliged. He needed no urging. The interception on Saturday morning was his third in the opening week of training camp, and it has clearly put him in front of Gerris Wilkinson in the race to win the weakside linebacker job, at least for opening game of the regular season against Washington on Sept. 13.

"I love running with the ball, I love getting a sack," Kehl said between practices at the University of Albany. "They are my two favorite things. I just try to be around the ball and it has been paying off."

How long it pays off for Kehl remains to be seen.

The Giants signed former Atlanta Falcon Michael Boley to a five-year, $25 million contract in the offseason with the idea he would take over on the weakside.

However, Boley hurt his hip during the offseason and had surgery in late June, sidelining him for 8 to 10 weeks.

He started training camp on the physically unable to perform list, and also is suspended for the regular-season opener for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy for an arrest on a battery charge against his wife in May 2008.

"My mindset is to do what I have to do and let them (management) make the tough decisions," Kehl said of Boley's return. "So I am going to go out there and ball. That's what I am going to do. The coaches can deal with the rest. When (No.) 53 is on the field, 53 is going to do his thing. That is my mindset."

A fourth-round draft choice out of Brigham Young, Kehl had a good rookie season. He played in all 17 games, including the playoffs, and had 30 tackles, one sack and one interception in a year where he was learning all the time. He also played on all the special teams and admits he was "10- toed" a few times by opponents as he ran down the field.

"This time last year, I was swimming," Kehl said. "My mind was a buzz. I was trying to figure where I was supposed to go, who I was supposed to look at and what I am reading. Now I know, and it's just reacting. It's so much better. I am still not as comfortable as I was in my defense at BYU when I was a senior, but I am close, so the game has slowed down."

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