When the New York Giants practice in full pads Sunday for the first time this season, the defensive linemen will be able to go full speed. We will get a first good look at where that group stands. With that in mind, this is a good time to assess the line.
Defensive line coach Robert Nunn spoke to the media
Pierre-Paul, of course, is the key figure on the defensive line. He says is "110 percent" and has said again and again that he believes he can return to his All-Pro form of 2011.
"I'm not worried about anything. My main goal is to start the season off healthy, which I am, get some preseason games in and play some football," Pierre-Paul said. "I feel like I've been out for a year."
If Pierre-Paul is healthy, perhaps he can back up some of his talk. Here is Nunn talking about JPP:
"He looks good. I don't see any limitations. I don't know about what percentage he's at -- that's hard for me to calculate. But I see nothing that shows any kind of limitations. He really came in in good shape, good condition, good frame of mind, and is off to a really good start."
Kiwanuka had a miserable 2013 season. He had six quarterback sacks, but scored a defense-worst -31.5 in the Pro Football Focus scoring system. Kiwanuka, now 31 and in his ninth season, is the last one standing from the group that included Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck. He has played with a determination to uphold the position's vaunted history thus far in camp.
"I think just being in these halls for a long time you get the urge, get the sense and everybody that comes in, the longer they stay, the more they understand it. Having a lot of new guys around here adds an increased role I have to play in terms of letting people know about the history," Kiwanuka said. "It's not just a mystique thing from the outside. It's a true way we approach the game and life, myself and a lot of other guys who have been here have taken the lead and just going out there and showing people how to work."
Here is Nunn on Kiwanuka:
"Kiwi has been a solid leader for a long time. Leading by example and leading in the classroom. I'm excited about where Kiwi is right now. ... When the pads come on, he has to perform and produce."
The veteran Jenkins, 33, is entering his 11th season. He remains an effective player who can be used at both tackle and as a run-stopping defensive end.
Here is Nunn on how the Giants will use the veteran Jenkins:
"We'll move him around in different game plans. It's great to have a guy like that - that can move around. Throughout next week we'll start moving guys around in different rush packages and different packages. You always have to rep guys in different positions because you never know what's going to happen with an injury during a game."
For now at least, the 30-year-old Patterson is holding off a challenge from second-year man Johnathan Hankins for a starting spot.
Here is Nunn on Patterson:
"He's had a solid career. He's a true professional, very quiet, comes to work every day as a ‘lunch-pail' guy. He came in [last season] and had a couple of big games. ... He's a pleasure to be around and he's just a true professional."
Johnathan Hankins & Markus Kuhn
I am lumping the two players together here because Nunn spoke about them together. Hankins, in his second year, is challenging Patterson for a starting spot. Kuhn, in his third year, is trying to become a regular part of the defensive tackle rotation.
Here is Nunn:
"I'm really excited about those two. Johnathan really did an outstanding job in the offseason taking care of himself. He's always in great shape. Those guys did as well as they could do in OTAs and mini-camp. At the start of training camp, they are right where they need to be. I'm excited about those two and once the pads come on, we'll see. But I think we're going to see positive things out of them throughout the year. They can provide a lot of depth."
The rookie defensive tackle from Syracuse was a surprising choice for the Giants in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Bromley hasn't made much impact thus far in training camp.
Here is Nunn on Bromley:
"He's real raw. Really needs to work on his technique and he needs every rep he can get. But he's very eager, has a great attitude, good personality, fits in the room. He's off to a good start but he needs time. Again, it's hard to tell anything until we get pads on with linemen. So we'll see where it goes once the pads come on, but I like where he is as far as his eagerness and he is very aware, on top of everything, has picked up on everything, done an outstanding job picking up the defense. He's a really exciting prospect."
The 28-year-old signed with the Giants after five seasons with the Denver Broncos. He has never really lived up to his status as a first-round pick (18th overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft. Thus far, Ayers has worked as a backup for Kiwanuka.
Here is Nunn on Ayers:
"Solid veteran. He's come in in really good shape. He lost a little bit of weight from the OTAs which I think has been a good thing. He's showing a little bit more suddenness, a little bit more quick twitch. He's a tough kid."
Oddly, Moore was the only player Nunn really did not appear to speak about -- at least there no quotes from Nunn about Moore in the transcript provided by the Giants. What we can say about Moore is that he has been active, has made a few sacks and has been noticeable throughout early practices. The Giants need that to continue.