Julian Love didn’t see many defensive snaps in the beginning of the season, but in the absence of safety Jabrill Peppers, the rookie is beginning to find his place within the Giants defense.
The Westchester native started for the first time this season in the Giants’ 31-13 loss to the Packers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, registering four solo tackles and assisting on three, with a forced fumble. Love, who is listed as a free safety behind Antoine Bethea on the Giants’ depth chart, had played three defensive snaps before slotting in at strong safety last Sunday against the Bears as Peppers went down with a back injury.
Peppers was sidelined on Sunday for the first time as a Giant, and Love was put right back on the field after an impressive performance last week. Love had finished with an interception, a pass defended and a tackle against the Bears.
“I think it was definitely tough at times, when you see your friends out there playing and contributing and I definitely wanted to be out there,” Love told The Post after Sunday’s loss. “But you have to take a step back and realize that everything is meant to happen. I was preparing like I was playing every single week, every single rep. And when you do that, you stay ready. So when the time comes, you don’t have to get ready. That’s what my old coach used to say to me, just saying always be ready.”
With the Giants down 17-10 to start the second half, Love contributed two solo tackles and one partial tackle on the Packers’ opening drive to help force a punt. The Giants then went on a 10-play drive that ended with Aldrick Rosas’ 45-yard field goal to cut the deficit to four.
Shortly after, Aaron Rodgers connected with Davante Adams for a 25-yard gain before Love capitalized on his positioning and forced a fumble, the first of his career. Unfortunately for the Giants, the ball rolled out of bounds and the Packers maintained possession, leading to another Green Bay touchdown and a 24-13 lead.
With a majority of the young Giants defense struggling, Love’s flashes of skill are all the more encouraging.
“This is huge [for me],” he said. “I think the ability to get game time reps, valuable reps, is crucial. It’s not just practice — now you’re getting game-like reps. And so you’ve just got to learn. If I make mistakes, I got to learn from it, and this is my time to. Just embracing it all, really.”
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