New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell spoke to the media on Thursday. After a dominant defensive performance -- albeit against a team largely lacking an offense -- the tone was much more upbeat than in previous weeks.
The main topic of interest to the reporters in attendance was rookie linebacker, and reigning NFC Defensive Player Of The Week, Devon Kennard.
"He is becoming smarter as a football player with the experience that he is getting. We knew he was a big, strong, powerful man. I think he is displaying that in his play, being a strong, powerful player," Fewell said. "I think [linebackers] coach [Jim] Herrmann has done a great job of bringing him along and developing him and we are trying to take advantage of his talents and trying to use him in the right ways."
And on his mental growth in particular, Fewell said "I think when I say that, he is taking what he is learning in the classroom and applying it on the field. In the classroom, when you ask him a question, he is pretty sharp. A lot of times when they are out there on the field and it happens fast, as a ball coach, you can see them thinking, like, ‘okay, I know what I am supposed to do, but I really didn't use my athleticism to do it.' He is starting to use his athleticism and executing those moves that we have talked about in the classroom. That is why I say he has become a smarter player."
Fewell also commented on Kennard's role as a blitzer.
"We have always wanted to do that with him. Some of the opportunities have not presented themselves, but we always wanted to do that with him. Again, he is a big, strong, powerful man. Over the last two weeks, he has played a lot more and we have just tried to take advantage of those opportunities. We saw that early on in the season, and he got the hamstring in the Detroit game. We weren't able to develop that part of his game until he could get back, and get back into the flow, and then to develop his on-the-field presence and his classroom presence and put both of those things together in order for him to go out and play fast for us."
Fewell was also asked about defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins' growth this year.
"I think Johnathan has been steady for us. Johnathan is deceiving when you watch him because you just think he is a big man that can't rush the passer. I think he does have pass rush ability. I think he can push the pocket for us very well. Then in the run game, I think Johnathan does a good job with the center as well as the three-technique pressing the guards. Last year he was a spot player for us. Then when we started to use him and use him a lot more when we had an injury, we found out that he can play any position on that defensive line, which he showed us in college."
He also spoke about the opportunity to see rookies Jay Bromley and Kerry Wynn in action.
"I think with Jay, he came to us as a guy that could push the pocket and we were trying to help him develop his run-game skills. I think he has developed some of his run game skills. We still like him as a guy who can push the pocket, especially in the pass rush. We are looking for him to develop more of his run game skills. Kerry Wynn had a solid preseason for us. He just had to continue to practice and what we are looking for from him is that experience factor. He is pretty disciplined in what he does in the run game as well as the pass game. He shows some power and strength in there. We are looking to see if he can continue to display that power and strength and how much stronger does he need to get over the offseason in order to be an every down player."
And finally Fewell was asked about some of the changes to the secondary. First up was Chykie Brown getting the start over Zack Bowman.
"He is a young man that is very conscientious. He takes very good notes, and when I say takes good notes, he is a good film study guy. He doesn't have all of our techniques down pat, but he has the long arms. We like that, for jams, he has really good speed, so we like the speed that he can possess when he runs down the field. He is a pretty tough guy as a corner. Most corners are not physically tough guys, I think he is a pretty tough guy. I think he is a really nice addition to come in and help play in our secondary. We just like the speed factor, and some of the intangibles of what I just mentioned in his play."
On Stevie Brown getting more of a role in the defense, Fewell said, "I think he had made a conscious effort to be more assignment-oriented and play the techniques that we are asking him to play. We have tried to do more with him than just standing in the middle of the field, and be a post player. We have asked him to get down in the box a little bit, we asked him to have various roles. I think he has accepted that instead of just being a middle of the field player. We think he is a very good middle of the field player, don't get me wrong there, but we asked him to contribute and do more."