It is Friday, which means time for our weekly 'Friday Five' with Inside Football editor Pat Traina. This week we talk about Devin Thomas's demotion, the play of Mathias Kiwanuka, which Giant should play fullback, and more.
Ed: I saw the reports this week that Devin Thomas has lost the kick return job. I know Tom Quinn has not been happy with him. Any thoughts on the move, and who might ultimately be the primary kickoff return guy?
Pat: My only thought is what took Quinn so long to make the move? Ball security issues aside, some of Thomas' decision making has been head scratchers. As a kickoff returner, if you're not getting the ball to at least the 20 yard line every time, then you're not doing your team justice. That's something Thomas hadn't been doing. Look for Da'Rel Scott and/or DJ Ware to handle kickoff return duties this week, at lest based on what Thomas told The Daily News.
Ed: Mathias Kiwanuka just won Defensive Player of The Week. I know people still cling to the 'he's a better defensive end than linebacker' belief, but from where I sit he is playing well wherever he is placed. Your thoughts on Kiwanuka's play, and how the Giants are using him?
Pat: I'm still not 100 percent comfortable when I see Kiwi in coverage and I believe he would be even more effective as a defensive end. However, he has played very, very well the last few weeks as a linebacker, no question.
Ed: OK, coach Traina. Time to put you on the spot and make you. Assuming both are healthy, who do you play at fullback -- Bear Pascoe or Henry Hynoski?
Pat: Is Madison Hedgecock healthy yet?
All kidding aside, if you're talking about this week, I think you go with Pascoe ONLY because Hynoski has been inactive from football for four-plus weeks (including the bye ). The 49ers have one of the most difficult run defenses that the Giants have faced thus far, so I think it makes sense to go with experience.
Another reason why I think they go with Pascoe is because this week, Rhino was on track to take his first full week of reps since before his injury. You can't tell me that he doesn't have some rust on his wheels, especially given how the new CBA limits pads and contact in practices. So I think it might take Rhino another week or two to get his sea legs back under him.
Ed: We all know the history of poor finishes to the season by the Giants during the Tom Coughlin era. There is no way of knowing what will happen, of course. But, do you get the sense from this team that there will be a better ending to the season this time around?
Pat: Truthfully I've heard this all before from the players, who say this time will be different, etc. I take what's said with a grain of salt. I think what people have to look at is the injury situation. I have long suspected that the reason for the second half collapse is that key injuries hit major contributors and that sends the team into a tailspin simply because the further you go into a season, the less quality street talent you'll find available.
Remember how a few years ago injuries wiped out the linebackers and the Giants had to pull in guys off the street for playoff game (which they lost)? So to me it's not so much about what's being said - I think the key will be can they stay relatively healthy for the second half of the season, and if they can, I think they'll avoid a second half slump.
Ed: Nobody really talks much about the play of the Giants defensive tackles. What do you think of that group?
Pat: I think they're the unsung heroes so far. Really I've been pleased by what I've seen. Linval Joseph is a load inside and while his name doesn't get called much, he really does a nice job of mucking up the middle. Canty has also been playing well, though a couple of weeks ago, he had aq quiet game.