Keith Rivers acknowledges he “hasn’t been able to stay on the field as much as I would like’’ and he didn’t get on the field at all in 2011, missing the entire season. Once a huge prospect at linebacker for the Bengals, he officially became a member of the Giants Thursday, and he’s looking forward to what’s ahead.
“I’ve been working really hard this offseason and it’s not about my past,’’ Rivers said. “It’s about what I’ve been doing to prepare myself for this year and I’m really excited about it. Hopefully . . . it’s a new beginning and everything is behind me and I’m ready to do it on the big stage here in New York.”
the Giants." title="BIG HIT: Ex-Bengals linebacker Keith RIvers, crashing into Browns tight end Benjamin Watson in 2010, officirally was traded yesterday to the Giants." width="300" height="300" src="/rw/nypost/2012/04/13/sports/web_photos/13.1S061.GIANTS2--300x300.jpg" />
BIG HIT: Ex-Bengals linebacker Keith RIvers, crashing into Browns tight end Benjamin Watson in 2010, officirally was traded yesterday to the Giants.
The stage is certainly set for Rivers, who turns 26 on May 5 — and begins a second chapter to what has been an unfulfilling NFL career. After four years in Cincinnati, he’s moved on, the Giants acquiring him for a fifth-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
“Keith will definitely bring some competition to our linebacker group,’’ general manager Jerry Reese said.
It’s likely the Giants will be highly disappointed if Rivers doesn’t find a way onto the field as a starter once the summertime competition comes to an end. Rivers was the ninth pick in the 2008 NFL Draft coming out of Southern Cal, but he never lived up to that lofty draft status.
“I’m excited to get a fresh start and brand new beginning,” Rivers said. “You can’t ask for more than to be playing for the defending world champions and be in New York.”
The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder is a weakside linebacker, a spot inhabited by Michael Boley, who is coming off his best season with the Giants. Second-year players Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger also play on the weak side, making it quite likely if the Giants are adamant about getting their three best linebackers on the field, Boley could be making a move inside to middle linebacker.
“This is an excellent opportunity for him to have a fresh start,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “Keith is versatile enough to play the outside on first and second down and he can play on third down because he runs well. And he’s fast enough to rush the passer.”
The Giants have two selections in the fourth round of the draft, making it easier for them to part with a fifth-round selection — the 167th overall pick. It’s not much of a gamble for a player who did not play in 2011 following wrist surgery last July.
The Giants held their annual local prospect workout prior to the NFL Draft on Thursday. A day earlier, the Giants got a jump on the action, bringing in Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu for a private workout. Throwing to Sanu was Matt Simms, son of former Giants quarterback Phil Simms. Matt Simms, who played sparingly last season at Tennessee, is not expected to be drafted.
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