Between now and Week 1 against the Washington Redskins, I'm sure we will spend lots of time discussing this. Since Yahoo! Sports brought it up , though, let's talk about where Mathias Kiwanuka plays if Michael Strahan retires.
It would seem natural that Kiwanuka, drafted as a defensive end, would move back to his natural position if Strahan hangs up his spikes.
Not so fast, though. This is what defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo had to say n the topic of Kiwanuka.
"If Michael does retire, I think we’ll try to leave Kiwi at linebacker. That was the original plan and he was growing into the position. Of course, in case of injuries, guys move around. And in our defense, he might be on the line now and then, but I would like to keep him as a linebacker."
If Strahan retires and Kiwanuka goes back to end, it's a move I certainly would understand. I hope it doesn't happen, though.
Despite his early struggles last season I maintain that Kiwanuka can be a tremendous force at linebacker given the opportunity to get completely comfortable there. I want to see him get that opportunity.
We saw before he got hurt last season that Kiwanuka was a force as a hybrid linebacker/defensive lineman, and the better he becomes as a linebacker the more devastating he can be in this hybrid capacity. The manueverability he offers is one of the things that can make the Giants defense special, and we have seen that Spags isn't afraid of doing unconventional things.
But the way Spagnuolo designs his highly unorthodox defense, there’s no telling where Kiwanuka will be coming from down to down. Several times last season the Giants’ front line consisted of Strahan, Umenyiora, Tuck and Kiwanuka.
“The goal is to get the best 11 players on the field,” Spagnuolo says. “We are fortunate in that we have several players who can play different positions and hence different roles.”
As he was last training camp, Kiwi will be one of the interesting players to watch this time around. I hope we are still watching him as a linebacker.