Defensive Tackle is Most Improved Position on New York Giants, Which Players Will Make 53-Man Roster?
Last season, the New York Giants’ defense gave up on average 254 passing yards and 129 rushing yards per game for a combined total of 383 yards given up per game; only the New Orleans Saints were worse on defense. While much of the press about the Giants this spring has been about Victor Cruz’s contract negotiations and Hakeem Nicks’ unexplained absence at OTAs, the team has a lot of sorting out to do on defense.
The Giants’ weakness was perceived to be a soft middle as teams ran between the tackles with impunity the second half of the season. If the G-Men are to make a playoff push they will have to improve at defensive tackle.
During the offseason GM Jerry Reese singed Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, both former Philadelphia Eagles, and then drafted Johnathan Hankins replacing Chris Canty, who had signed with the Baltimore Ravens.
The Giants will likely carry four DTs going into week one of the 2013 NFL season. Jenkins and Hankins are both locks as well is returning starter Linval Joseph to make the roster. Leaving Marvin Austin, Markus Kuhn, Frank Okam, Shaun Rodgers and Patterson to compete for the final DT spot with the team.
It’s hard to know how many DTs the Giants will carry this year as they look to change up their defense and move away from the nascar package that essentially lined-up four defensive ends on the front line. But if they do carry four, or even five, DTs its impossible to tell who will earn the final spot(s) on the roster.
That being said, competition between Austin, Kuhn, Okam, Patterson and Rodgers will be intense during the final week of OTAs at the Timex Performance Center in New Jersey as they try to redeem their NFL careers by earning a bench spot.
Collectively, these player histories read like character stories out of a Charles Dickens’ novel.
Patterson’s once promising career has been limited after a series of serious illnesses. Rodgers is a 13-year veteran whose pro-bowl days came early in his career and spent last year on the PUP list due to a blood clot in his leg. Okam is another recent well-traveled veteran signing who has spent the past five seasons with three different teams. Austin’s short professional career has been a disappointment so far, spending last year on the injured reserve after tearing a pectoral muscle during a preseason game with the Chicago Bears, and Kuhn tore his ACL against the Cincinnati Bangles week 10.
Look for Patterson and Austin to beat out the rest as the Giants’ will carry five DTs this season.
OTAs conclude next week and mandatory full-team mini camp starts the week after on June 11th. Turning their 2012 weakness into a strength the Giants are now perceived to be stacked at the DT position. However, the coaching staff has their work cut out for them in evaluating the remaining players who will be able to contribute for Big Blue’s 2013 NFL campaign.