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Film Study: What Might Cap Capi Bring To The Giants’ Defense

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The Giants promoted Cap Capi from the practice squad, but what does he bring on the field?

NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame Game-Arizona Cardinals vs Dallas Cowboys Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

This week the New York Giants made the surprising move to not only put linebacker J.T. Thomas on injured reserve, but to waive rookie fullback Shane Smith.

To fill the roster spot they promoted a pair of linebackers from the practice squad. One of them, Nordly Capi, called Cap Capi, isn't very familiar to Giants' fans. Signed to the Giants' practice squad after final cut downs, Capi spent the preseason on the Arizona Cardinals' roster.

The newest Giant was a fan favorite in Arizona and had a great preseason as a pass rusher. Let's take a quick look and see what made it such a surprise that Arizona cut him.

Play 1 - Defending The Run

Capi said that he considers himself a pass rush specialist, but we’re going to start with some run defense. The Cardinals are in a 4-2 nickel front with Capi (number 42) putting his hand on the ground as the right defensive end, lining up off the outside shoulder of the left tackle. This is an outside zone run that looks to be designed to go either off-tackle or though through the left B-gap.

Capi’s alignment pretty much precludes the off-tackle run, and he does a good job of firing low and hard off the snap to set a hard edge. The back makes the obvious decision to take the run through the B-gap where the defensive tackle is tied up by the double team. The safety, number 34, comes up to fill the running lane, but he doesn’t get the chance to make the tackle. That’s because Capi is able to uncoil his hips, force the offensive tackle back, and disengage to make the stop for just a 2-yard gain.

Obviously there were other plays where he didn’t make the tackle at the line of scrimmage. I mostly picked this one because the formation is similar to what the Giants play and it was one of Capi’s first plays on the field after the starting defense rotated out of the game.

Play 2 - Pressuring The Passer

On to the pass rush, we have Capi on the other side of the formation, playing what amounts to a stand-up defensive end in a five-man front. The Cardinals threaten a blitz from the second level, but ultimately only the five players on the line of scrimmage rush, each garnering a 1-on-1 matchup with the offensive line.

Capi is rushing from the left of the defensive front, matched up on the right tackle. He fakes an outside rush, getting the tackle to bite and set for the outside speed rush. When the tackle bites, Capi jabs his hand inside forcing the tackle to reach for him. As he does, Capi quickly reverses and goes for the inside move, blowing right through the gap and into the QB’s face.

The pass is ultimately complete for 5 yards and a first down (courtesy, in part, to an encroachment penalty on the previous snap, which gave the Falcons a third-and-3 instead of a third-and-8). So while Capi couldn’t quite get there fast enough to prevent the play being made, he still had a good rep.

Play 3 - Sack

“People notice the pass rush, but I play the run pretty good. I had a couple tackles for loss in the preseason, But, yeah, I’m a pass rush specialist. I really enjoy pass rush. … The feeling of getting a sack is unexplainable.”

That was Capi’s answer when Ed asked him what he does best. We’ll let’s take a look at one of those sacks.

The Falcons are knocking on the door of the end zone, with a chance to punch it in and make it a one-score game.

Once again, Capi is at right defensive end, coiled tightly into his stance, which he explodes out of at the snap. On the previous play we saw him fake an outside move before taking an inside route to the quarterback. On this one he hesitates for an instant, faking an inside move. That is just enough to get the tackle to stop his feet and narrow his stance as he gets ready to mirror inside. When his pad level rises, Capi turns the jets back on outside, getting the tackle to turn perpendicular to the line of scrimmage, and he is effectively beaten.

From there it’s just a matter of clearing the tackle and bending the edge to the quarterback. Capi shows really good bend and flexibility as he turns the corner. He also shows good discipline to not run deeper than the level of the quarterback, in fact staying a bit shallow and meeting him as he steps up into the pocket.

Final Thoughts

We don’t know how much, if at all, Capi will play in Sunday’s game. He was likely brought up as insurance because of Olivier Vernon’s ankle injury, but we have to assume that Romeo Okwara, Kerry Wynn, and Avery Moss are all ahead of Capi, who has only been in the Giants’ defense for a month.

Of course, he was one of the league’s most efficient pass rushers in preseason, so perhaps he could work his way on to the field sooner than we realize.

But watching him in the third preseason game, there is quite a bit to like about his game. He shows the versatility to play both SAM linebacker — which is generally around the line of scrimmage in the Giants’ scheme -- and defensive end. He also shows a good first step off the line and good bend around the edge.

He became a fan favorite in Arizona, and it’s pretty easy to see why. Whether or not he gets the chance to be a fan favorite in New York remains to be seen.