Historical team trends show that the New York Giants typically boast great defensive fronts with an aptitude for pass rushing. Ever since the team's last Super Bowl victory in 2011, the defensive line just has not been up to par. Johnathan Hankins knows the Giants need to rectify that.
"The last three years, we haven't lived to the Giants standard," Hankins said after Tuesday's minicamp practice. "We have been last in stopping the run and the last few minutes of the game, we haven't been dominating, so that is what we really been focusing on getting right for this year."
To make sure stopping the run would not remain a problem, the Giants signed one of the game's elite run defenders in defensive tackle Damon Harrison. With Harrison taking over the nose for the Giants, that now means Hankins would have to slide into the 3-technique where generating a pass rush against one-on-one matchups is the key. When asked if he has that pass rushing ability, Hankins said not facing double teams as often will help him.
"Well, the way it is looking now, I think I will be able to because I think [Harrison] will always be the nose and I will always be the three, so take some of the double-teams off of me and keep the eyes on him."
With their skill sets being similar, do the Giants see Harrison and Hankins as interchangeable? Would they split time at both the nose and the 3-technique positions? According to Hankins, he believes he will see the bulk of the snaps at the 3-technique.
"I think I will mostly playing the three because we have big Snacks," Hankins said. "I'm not saying he can't play the three, but we know what he is good at."
Even though Harrison has taken the starting nose position, Hankins believes that they can push themselves together to grow and get better.
"He is probably the best at playing in the league, so just getting small tips from him will be helpful for me," Hankins said. "Now that he is playing nose and I get the chance to play nose, so it is another guy that I can look up to and do some work with."
With mandatory minicamp underway and training camp not so far off, Hankins is ready for action following his pectoral injury from last season.
"I feel like I am full go and ready to get started, but I am just listening to them and taking their advice," Hankins said. "I'm getting there, I was a little rusty. I didn't get on the field for a while, and getting my footwork back to how it used to be, so that is still an ongoing process."
For most of Hankins' career, he has been on a slumping Giants team. This offseason is a whole different feel for him given the new talent on the team.
"I think it is a different vibe. We have a lot of new faces, new attitude, new feel, new coach and a new beginning. so I feel like we have a lot of good guys on defense and offense," Hankins said. "I feel like we have a really good shot at it this year."
If the defensive line is as good as it looks on paper, recent Giants history says they have a great shot indeed.