Giants sign reserve linebacker Clark

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- Four years after leaving Jacksonville, Tom Coughlin has brought his first former Jaguars player to the Giants.

Linebacker Danny Clark, who has played for Jacksonville, Oakland, New Orleans and Houston, signed a contract with the Giants on Thursday. A 6-2, 245-pounder, Clark is entering his ninth NFL season.

"Danny Clark is a player I drafted a few years ago in Jacksonville," Coughlin said. "We're bringing him in as an outside linebacker. He is a very physical, very versatile player. Over the years, he has been a very good special teams player. Clark is a veteran guy with an outstanding work ethic. He will fit in well with our players in the locker room. He will have an opportunity to compete for a position."

"He is a veteran linebacker who can play all three spots," general manager Jerry Reese said. "He has been an outstanding special teams player. He is going to create competition in both areas, special teams and at linebacker. He fits the New York Giant mold."

Clark has played in 122 games with 66 starts. He played in all 16 games six times in his first eight seasons and started every game twice -– with the 2002 Jaguars and the 2004 Raiders. Clark has 576 tackles (384 solo), 5.0 sacks, two interceptions, 16 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

"I have a passion for all three linebacker spots," Clark said. "I am a middle linebacker by trade and I am darn good at outside linebacker as well. I think when you go downhill my emphasis is on making big hits and disconnecting the ball from the ballcarrier. It doesn't matter where you line up as long as you go and make plays doing it."

In 2007, Clark joined the Houston Texans and won the starting strongside linebacker job in training camp. Clark played in 13 games with eight starts, but was slowed by a groin injury that forced him to the inactive list for three games late in the season. He finished with 43 tackles (34 solo) and intercepted Josh McCown in Oakland on Nov. 4.

The Texans were 8-8 last season, which is the second-best record Clark's teams have had in the NFL; the 2006 Saints were 10-6. His teams are a combined 51-77 in his career, so he is eager to join the Super Bowl champions.

"It is an honor," Clark said. "It is tough to repeat, but I think it is definitely a huge possibility with the guys they have in that locker room and the coaching staff and ultimately the organization. This is a storied organization that in the past has won several championships and it is an honor for me to put on the helmet. I just want to be a part of this defense that is just tearing people apart. I want to be able to help get us to the fourth Super Bowl title."

Clark, a three-time honorable mention All-Big Ten player at Illinois, was selected by the Jaguars on the seventh round of the 2000 NFL Draft, the 245th overall selection. He played four years in Jacksonville, three of them for Coughlin.

As a rookie, he played in every game and led the Jaguars with 25 special teams tackles, including four in a game against Pittsburgh. The following year, he played in 13 games with three starts and contributed 48 tackles on defense and three on special teams. Clark's first NFL start was at Baltimore on Oct. 28. In 2002, he started every game –- 12 on the strong side and four at weakside linebacker. Clark was second on the team with a career-high 152 tackles (73 solo), including 10 or more tackles in eight games. He also had two sacks and an interception. Coughlin left the Jaguars following that season, but Clark stayed one more year. He started eight games in 2003 –- six on the weak side and two at strongside backer –- and had 73 tackles (62 solo).

Clark said Coughlin put him on the right path early in his career.

"He made me do the right things," Clark said. "He ultimately teaches you how to be a professional. He teaches you to be accountable to your teammates and be on time and dressed appropriately. All of that stuff molds a young guy into an upstanding citizen in this league, which is hard to find sometimes. You knew what you were going to get day-in and day-out and that stuck with me throughout my career in the NFL. I spoke with him the other day and I made him aware of that."

Clark joined the Raiders in 2004, started every game at middle linebacker and led the team with 129 tackles, including 98 solo stops. He led the team in tackles eight times and had a career-high 16 stops vs. San Diego on Nov. 21. In 2005 Clark started 15 games (he did not start against Miami because the team opened with six defensive backs) and again led Oakland in tackles, this time with 113 (82 solo). Clark was voted a defensive co-captain by his teammates.

After being released by Oakland prior to the 2006 season, Clark joined a Saints team that advanced to the NFC Championship Game. He contributed 13 tackles on both defense and special teams while playing every regular season game, then added three special teams tackles in an NFC Divisional Playoff victory over Philadelphia and a solo tackle and a pass defensed in the championship game in Chicago.

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