After starting all but one game for the New York Giants in 2013, 11-year veteran defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins is expected to once again anchor the interior of the defensive line. The Giants have an intriguing mix of experience and youthfulness at defensive tackle, and along with Mike Patterson, Jenkins will lead a group that includes the younger Johnathan Hankins, Markus Kuhn and Jay Bromley.
Let's focus on Jenkins as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster that will report to training camp for the Giants on July 21.
2013 Season in Review
Jenkins appeared in all 16 games last season, starting 15. He finished with 31 tackles and five sacks, the latter of which was third-most on the team. At 33 (he'll turn 34 next January), it's fair to wonder when Jenkins will wear down. He's played a full 16-game schedule in four of the last five seasons, save for his 11-game season in 2010. Still, until that happens, he'll continue being a mainstay up front.
Again, Jenkins' outlook for this season seems largely dependent on his health. Without a reason to doubt that at this point, Jenkins will likely start alongside Hankins or Patterson. Bromley, a third-round draft pick, is also a promising rookie with the size, speed and football IQ to contribute quickly. The Giants also signed former South Carolina defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles as an undrafted free agent.
So it appears the Giants' depth at defensive tackle is solid. That'll compensate if/when injuries occur, but more immediately, it should increase the probability of Jenkins and Patterson both continuing to contribute as veterans while the younger tackles mold into form. It'll be interesting to see how Hankins, Bromley, Kuhn and Quarles progress in training camp, as they'll likely see the majority of the reps while Jenkins and Patterson are allowed lighter workloads. If that plan pays off, the unit could grow into one of the defense's strengths for 2014.