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Justin Tuck: Whether it's Peyton Manning or RGIII, 'you got to rattle the quarterback'

In an appearance on ESPN Radio's 'The Herd,' Justin Tuck discusses spread offenses, playing in New York and defensive rule changes

Nick Laham

New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck appeared on ESPN Radio's "The Herd" Wednesday morning, discussing an array of topics -- from game-planning against spread-option quarterbacks, to playing in New York, to league rules protecting against specific hits.

Host Colin Cowherd asked the Giants veteran what it was like to play against Washington Redskins signal-caller Robert Griffin III twice a year, and Tuck admitted it's no easy task.

"You get used to the quarterbacks that sit in the pocket. The biggest thing is the week to week -- you play Peyton Manning and the things you throw at him to try and defend him with. You're not going to throw the same things at RGIII, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson or Cam Newton," Tuck said. "You have to be versatile from one week to the next. You can never get in a groove. You always got to be able to change and do different things, and that's tough."

RGIII has been a mainstay in headlines since the 2012 postseason, when the Offensive Rookie of the Year tore his ACL. He was again a topic of conversation with Cowherd and Tuck.

Cowherd asked Tuck if he thought RGIII -- as well as the other mobile quarterbacks now prominently featured in the league -- would have to adjust their style of play.

"Absolutely," Tuck said. "RG is going to get better at it because having the injury he had last year, he has to understand he needs to do a better job at keeping himself healthy. You'll see a little bit of a change in his running style. As a defensive player, we understand to kill offense you got to rattle the quarterback, regardless if he's a running quarterback or not. All quarterbacks are sought after."

Speaking of spread-option systems, Tuck was asked about Oregon scheme transitioning to the NFL.

Tuck and the Giants will see it twice a year when they face the Philadelphia Eagles, and the defensive end admitted it's something he and his teammates discuss.

"We gave it some thought once Chip Kelly signed with the Eagles," he said. "It's something as an NFL player -- we all still watch college football and we're intrigued by some of the match ups. One of the most intriguing stories is the Oregon offense."

The Eagles are considered a team in a rebuilding mode. Some categorize the Giants the same way.

Cowherd asked Tuck if he thought the Giants were in a rebuilding mode, to which Tuck corrected him, calling it a "reloading" mode.

"(Last year) we didn't stay healthy. That's the biggest point. We didn't play consistent," he said. "I don't see us in a rebuilding year. In a way we're reloading, resurfacing with what we've been trying to do here."

Finally, Cowherd asked the veteran what his thoughts were on the NFL rule changes that try and discourage hits to the upper body. The latest incident -- the hit on Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller -- has sparked a bit of a controversy across the league, as defensive players are saying they needed to "retrain themselves" in regards to tackling.

Tuck admitted he's had to change his approach to be in accordance with the rules, but said incidents like Keller's show there are still holes in the NFL's policy.

"There are plays that have that split-second impact. Three years ago, you could hit him in the chest and not worry about," Tuck said. "There's so much emphasis on hitting players in the head or defenseless receivers. Unfortunately, Dustin got hurt and you never want to see it, but nothing was done with a malicious intent.

"It's just the way of the world in the sport that we play. Everything is always ever-changing. The NFL is doing a good job making it as safe as possible, but there are still holes."

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