Julian Love is the embodiment of the newest buzzword inside the Giants.
“Cross-training” refers to offensive tackles playing on both ends of the line of scrimmage, defensive linemen sliding from the interior to the edge, and receivers rotating from the outside to the slot.
Or, in Love’s case, lining up in a different spot in the secondary from one play to the next — by design or necessity.
“I think it’s a special thing,” Love said. “We have very intelligent players who are capable of doing whatever is asked of them. That’s what we’re pushing, to really be there for each other. When adversity strikes we just want to make sure everyone is ready. It’s been exciting for all of us to take on this challenge.”
Strong safety Jabrill Peppers missed the final five games of last season due to injury. Love stepped in.
Rookie free safety Xavier McKinney sat out Friday’s scrimmage to manage his workload. Love stepped in.
Cornerbacks DeAndre Baker (exempt list) and Sam Beal (COVID-19 opt-out clause) likely won’t play this season. Maybe Love will step in.
“There’s just a learning curve, so you’ve seen him improve every day,” coach Joe Judge said. “He’s been more vocal. That’s important in his role, being the signal-caller in the deep part of the field.
“He has the athletic ability that we’re going to play him in a different variety of spots based on the matchups. You see him play up in some man-coverage sometimes. We’re going to move him around as needed.”
Love was in line to start before the Giants used a second-round pick on McKinney. Now, he’s like a super-sub with no hard feelings.
“When Xavier was drafted, I just thought, ‘Wow, that’s great firepower for us,’ ” Love said. “I had heard about him, I know how he is as a person, as a player, how he prepares. I think that’s what we needed around here.”
Love’s ability was on display in the scrimmage when he pulled a touchdown catch out of Golden Tate’s hands in a battle of two Notre Dame alums.
“He initially had the ball,” Love said. “He went up to get it and I just tried to finish it to the ground. That’s all it was, playing through the hands and really being aggressive trying to rip that thing out. I wanted to be in a better position to start, but it was a good finish.”
If there was a team silver lining to losing Peppers — the emotional leader of the defense — last season, it was Love’s sped-up development. He played three total defensive snaps in the first nine games compared to 406 the rest of the way — a “crucial” confidence-builder headed into his second season.
The Patriots employed a three-safety system of Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon during nearly all of Judge’s tenure as an assistant coach.
“I’ve bounced around positions my whole life in the defensive backfield,” Love said. “It’s no different now. No matter where I’m at or how old I am, I’m always ready to play whatever. I’m excited to do that. I just want to be a ballplayer, that’s what it comes down to.”
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