Johnathan Hankins, Damontre Moore waiting, learning

Damontre Moore - Maddie Meyer

A look at why the two rookie defensive linemen have not played more this season.

Second-round pick Johnathan Hankins has been active for only two games this season for the New York Giants and has played just 42 snaps. Third-round pick Damontre Moore has played in six games, but totalled only 26 defensive snaps. Why haven't the two rookie defensive linemen played more this season?

Some will scream 'Tom Coughlin hates to play rookies' or 'It's because Coughlin is too loyal to his veteran players.' There might be some validity to both of those claims, but the truth as to why both of these exciting young players has seen very little action thus far is much more complicated than that.

Let's look at each player individually. 

Hankins

Hankins is simply a victim of the Giants' depth at the defensive tackle position. After a season, really two seasons, of struggling to stop the run the Giants made a huge commitment to revamping the defensive tackle position.

Out went Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard and Marvin Austin. In came Hankins, drafted 49th overall, and a slew of veteran players. Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson were signed as free agents. Massive three-time Pro Bowler Shaun Rogers was brought back after a season spent on IR due to a blood clot in his leg.

The move has worked. After giving up 4.6 yards per carry a season the Giants have allowed just 3.7 yeards per carry this season. Last week Minnesota's Adrian Peterson got only 28 yards in 13 carries. Earlier this season LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles gained only 46 yards in 20 carries.

The veteran defensive tackles have all played well. Patterson has the best run grade on the defense from Pro Football Focus, a +8.2. Linval Joseph is the holdover from last season and is +3.7 overall, +3.3 vs. the run. Jenkins has a three-year contract and a +6.2 overall grade, though most of that (+4.3) has been accomplished rushing the passer. Rogers (+1.1 overall) has also been a force, last week causing a critical interception by pressuring Vikings' quarterback Josh Freeman.

Hankins has simply been victimized by the depth the Giants have in front of him. The two games during which he was active came as a result of injuries, and he actually played well. In those 42 snaps he has five tackles (four stops), two quarterback pressures and a +2.9 overall grade from PFF.

Hankins admitted watching has not been easy:

"It's tough, definitely not something I want to get used to," said Hankins, 21. "It's hard coming to the game and not playing, but you've got to realize this is a business and the coaches are going to play who they want to play, who they feel is best for us out there.

"I've just got to keep confidence in myself, keep working and keep getting better. Eventually, I'll be on that field and once I do really get a shot to be on that field consistently, I'm not going to come off."

Head coach Tom Coughlin said he was "pleased" with Hankins' play in the first Eagles' game. Hankins is likely to get another opportunity this Sunday as Rogers is doubtful with a knee injury.

Hankins' playing time after Sunday will likely be determined by a couple of factors. First is injuries, of course. Secondly, the result of Sunday's game against Philly may force the Giants to alter their thinking. Even at 1-6 the Giants believe they can make a run in a weak NFC East. A victory Sunday won't change that thinking. The defensive tackle play has been outstanding thus far, so why mess with it? A loss that would put them at 1-7 might force them to alter the plan, regardless of who is playing well. If the season crumbles completely beyond repair the Giants will be forced -- like it or not -- to being playing for their future.

In his limited time, Hankins, 21, has certainly looked like a player who can be part of that.

Moore

Way back in training camp, impressed defensive line coach Robert Nunn watched the young pass-rusher from Texas A&M and said "I really see him contributing as a rookie." Unfortunately, Moore has been his own worst enemy in not being able to do that.

He began spectacularly, blocking a punt at the very outset of his first preseason game. Unfortunately, he injured a shoulder and was not ready to play again until Week 2 of the regular season. He followed that up by injuring a hamstring Week 5 against the Eagles, forcing him to miss most of that game and all of the Week 6 game against the Chicago Bears.

Make no mistake. The Giants understand the 21-year-old's potential and would love for him to contribute. Up to this point, however, they just don't believe he is ready for an expanded role.

"We're trying to develop Damontre to enter that role and to be effective in that role for us," Fewell said. "He missed some time in the preseason so everything that you try to do developing a player and bringing him along to be that role player that you want him to be gets pushed back."

When will Moore's role expand?

"It just all depends. If the light switch comes on, because Damontre is a very talented young man, when does the light switch come on for a rookie because JPP's first year, we brought him along very slowly. When the light switch came on, it was like ‘wow, where did this guy come from,?' " Fewell said. "We're hoping we can do the same thing with him, we'd love for that to be now. It's just the development of the player.

Moore, like Hankins, would seem likely to have his role expand if the Giants continue to lose game.

"It’s tough, definitely not something I want to get used to," said Hankins, 21. "It’s hard coming to the game and not playing, but you’ve got to realize this is a business and the coaches are going to play who they want to play, who they feel is best for us out there.

"I’ve just got to keep confidence in myself, keep working and keep getting better. Eventually, I’ll be on that field and once I do really get a shot to be on that field consistently, I’m not going to come off."

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/sports/Giants_rookie_Johnathan_Hankins_aims_to_make_impact_on_D.html?page=all#sthash.QvGOVb9S.dpuf

"It’s tough, definitely not something I want to get used to," said Hankins, 21. "It’s hard coming to the game and not playing, but you’ve got to realize this is a business and the coaches are going to play who they want to play, who they feel is best for us out there.

"I’ve just got to keep confidence in myself, keep working and keep getting better. Eventually, I’ll be on that field and once I do really get a shot to be on that field consistently, I’m not going to come off."

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/sports/Giants_rookie_Johnathan_Hankins_aims_to_make_impact_on_D.html?page=all#sthash.QvGOVb9S.dpuf

"It’s tough, definitely not something I want to get used to," said Hankins, 21. "It’s hard coming to the game and not playing, but you’ve got to realize this is a business and the coaches are going to play who they want to play, who they feel is best for us out there.

"I’ve just got to keep confidence in myself, keep working and keep getting better. Eventually, I’ll be on that field and once I do really get a shot to be on that field consistently, I’m not going to come off."

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/sports/Giants_rookie_Johnathan_Hankins_aims_to_make_impact_on_D.html?page=all#sthash.QvGOVb9S.dpuf

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