Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn has not made much of an impact for the New York Giants during his first three seasons. Can that change in his fourth year? Let's look at Kuhn as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.
2014 Season in Review
Kuhn played in 14 games with one start. He played a career-high 254 snaps, had a career-best 19 tackles, the only sack of his career and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Still, Kuhn's playing time wasn't necessarily a help to the Giants in 2014. He compiled a -15.9 Pro Football Focus grade, with only the departed Mathias Kiwanuka (-18.3) being worse. Kuhn's -11.7 grade vs. the run had to be a contributing factor as the Giants allowed a league-worst 4.9 yards per rushing play.
2015 Season Outlook
The German-born Kuhn is no longer a young player. The 2012 seventh-round pick is in his fourth year and is already 29 years old. He has heard head Tom Coughlin's message loud and clear that the Giants need to get bigger and stronger and play better defense against the run. Having entered the league at 299 pounds, the 6-foot-4 Kuhn is now 320 pounds. He told Big Blue View that is about 10 pounds heavier than he was a year ago and the maximum amount of weight he believes he can carry.
Johnathan Hankins in entrenched at one defensive tackle and seemingly on the verge of becoming a Pro Bowl-caliber player. The spot opposite Hankins? That is up for grabs, and throughout the spring Kuhn received a healthy number of first-teams reps. Kuhn, Cullen Jenkins, second-year man Jay Bromley and free agent-signee Kenrick Ellis are all vying for playing time.
"He [Kuhn] has given us some quality reps last year and I have been very impressed with him during the OTAs. The thing he has got to do is produce when we get in pads and that is the same way with Jay, Kenrick and that group right there. When we get in pads and, like I said earlier, when the live bullets start being fired, production is going to tell us a lot about who is going to be playing and how the rotation is going to work," defensive line coach Robert Nunn said during minicamp.
"He needs to increase his production but we all need to do that. He is a steady hand and a very good leader in the classroom, very good leader in our room. He is a quality guy and he has got it in front of him this year, this will be a big year for him."
Kuhn is no longer an under-sized, inexperienced player. He is entering the final year of his rookie contract and, if he doesn't give the Giants something in 2015, could find himself out of New York and out of the league altogether. Here is what he told Jordan Ranaan of NJ Advance Media:
"I was always young to the game. But now I've been in the league three years, I'm going into my fourth year, this is the end of my rookie contract," Kuhn said during last month's minicamp."I have no more excuses."