CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 03: Running back Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns runs away from linebacker Keith Rivers #55 of the Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 3 2010 in Cleveland Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
The Bengals' most recent major roster purge of what they deemed as "dead weight", was that of Keith Rivers. The former 2008 top-ten pick was shipped to the New York Giants shortly before the draft for a 2012 fifth round pick, which in turn provided the Bengals with safety George Iloka. Many media outlets proclaimed the Bengals the winners of the trade, though opinions varied.
Rivers himself recently spoke out his arrival to New York and he thinks he has a special opportunity on his hands. According to Long Island Newsday's Tom Rock, Rivers thinks that the Giants have a major steal with him on the roster.
In speaking with various media members, Rivers said:
"I was the ninth pick in the draft," Rivers said yesterday. "Anywhere near that [level of play for the Giants] and it's beyond a steal. It's armed robbery."
As of today, Rivers has been lining up with the second team behind Michael Boley at outside linebacker. There have been mentions of Rivers getting a look at middle linebacker with the depth at that spot being questioned with Chase Blackburn and Mark Herzlich manning the spot. However, Rivers never played that position while in Cincinnati.
He's still trying to find his niche with the Giants and even though things are up in the air at the moment, Rivers appears to be excited for what's ahead.
"For me it's more about proving to myself that I am who I was and nothing has changed," he said.
"I'm interested to see what happens as well," he said with a grin. In yesterday's practices, he was playing outside linebacker with the second unit. He said he hasn't been in this kind of position uncertainty since he was a freshman at Southern Cal, checking out the depth chart and trying to judge where he stands in the coaches' eyes.
"It's a situation where when you've been hurt, you always want to show people what they've been missing," he said. "I'm excited to get out there and prove a lot of things to myself. Whenever you get hurt, there's always a little bit of 'Will I come back the same way?' And you work hard to make sure that you do."
Rivers' salary is a bit hefty for a backup and that's a major reason for his departure from the Bengals this season. He would have had a major uphill battle to beat out Thomas Howard for the weakside linebacker spot and would have likely been relegated to special teams duty and/or spot starter. He's still fighting a battle in New York as well, but he seems to have a better shot at having a bigger role because of their lack of depth at that position group.