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Meet Dexter Lawrence: Giants fan is now a Giant lineman

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Lawrence grew up watching some of the great Giants defensive linemen

NFL: Combine
Dexter Lawrence
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Dexter Lawrence grew up in North Carolina, but he was always paying attention to the New York Giants.

He remembers “Growing up watching the D-line, (former Giants DE) Justin Tuck, and (former Giants DE) Michael Strahan, and (former Giants DT) Fred Robbins, (former Giants DE) Osi Umenyiora. Growing up just watching them kind of inspired me.”

That turned him into a Giants fan and turned being selected 17th overall by the Giants in the 2019 NFL Draft on Thursday into a “great moment.”

Now, the 6-foot-4, 342-pound defensive lineman is aiming to take his place among those storied linemen.

“My goal is to come in day one and challenge the defensive line as being the greatest unit in the world kind of thing,” Lawrence said. “That’s just kind of what my mindset is going to be and what is has been since I’ve been in high school. Let’s not settle, let’s go get it. Right now, I’m real happy to be a Giant.”

Per Sports Info Solutions, Lawrence had zero tackle attempts broken in 2018.

Here are some of the other things Lawrence touched on during a brief conference call with New York media on Thursday night.

On comparisons to Damon Harrison ...

The Giants, of course, traded ‘Snacks’ to the Detroit Lions last season.

“I feel like my game is very powerful, a smart player, non-quit effort kind of guy. That’s just my mindset every play, and how I want to attack every snap.”

On the idea that he isn’t a pass rusher ...

Lawrence had 6.5 sacks in 2016, but only 4.5 over the past two seasons.

“I do consider myself a pass rusher,” he said. “I just got to unlock it, that’s all. A lot of times, I didn’t set myself up for things. I know that’ll be the difference, and that’s a big focus of mine is to stop all the doubting.”

Lawrence said a 2017 foot injury limited his mobility.

“I feel like my sophomore year, I was battling an injury playing on one leg kind of deal. My junior season, I got my confidence back a lot more the second half of the season. The first half of the season, I was kind of timid on it a little bit, but I’ve gotten over that hump,” he said. “I got a screw in my fifth metatarsal, but that had healed. The problem was they did a nerve block in the back of my leg and it irritated the nerves in my leg and I couldn’t do a toe raise or push-off with it or do anything with it for like a year and a month.”

On his 2018 suspension for a failed drug test ...

Lawrence missed both the Cotton Bowl and the National Championship Game. He said he had to explain what happened in “every meeting, everywhere I went, every media source” during the draft process.

“It was something I had to deal with. It was unfortunate that happened to me. I was innocent, but God had a plan for me and I felt like that helped people learn who I truly was,” Larence said. “It got people to know me, I got to express myself. I had the choice to go to the media, I didn’t have to, but I wanted to so that I make the narrative kind of deal and not let people put their little spin on things that they do.”

On Daniel Jones ...

Lawrence has played against the quarterback the Giants took sixth overall.

“I like him a lot. Playing against him when we played Duke, I gained a lot of respect for him,” Lawrence said. “He did not quit and he’s deceptively fast. His arm is really accurate, I feel like a lot of his balls were dropped so his stats weren’t really there watching film, but I think he’s really special.”