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Kayvon Thibodeaux explains Wink’s practice comments: ‘He’s preaching to the choir’

Thibodeaux says he took the comments as motivation, not criticism

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New York Giants Training Camp
Kayvon Thibodeaux
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

If the New York Giants are going to be successful defensively this season, Kayvon Thibodeaux will need to play a key role. His coach let him — and everyone else on the defense — know it.

If that sounded like a negative, Thibodeaux didn’t take it as such.

“I mean, it wasn’t anything negative,” he said Wednesday about Wink Martindale’s message to him in a team meeting. “It wasn’t necessarily in a sense like ‘oh’ but I mean it’s understanding that people; for a coach talking to for example, a great player and a coach talking to a player that he sees potential in, it’s going to be different.”

From the way Thibodeaux made it sound, Martindale pushed him to live up to his draft status as a potential elite edge rusher.

“So, him wanting to let me know that he feels I can be a Pro Bowler this year, he feels I can kind of take the league by storm, and me knowing that him saying it, really doesn’t mean much, right?” he continued. “It’s about what I go do every day, and that’s kind of the conversation that we had, that I am the only one who can get me to the places that I want to be.”

After an uneven rookie season, Thibodeaux knows he needs to hit another gear in Year 2. He says that he already motivates himself in this way, so Martindale’s pep talk is nothing new or unusual.

“He’s just preaching to the choir. I am a guy who kind of preaches that stuff to myself, and I am a guy who tries to lead in that standpoint. So, yeah, we are talking the same language as always and just continuing to get better,” Thibodeaux explained. “I think that’s the point of camp. It’s easy when you get to practice 15, 16, 17, it starts to get complacent, it gets repetitive. Just continuing to stay fresh, continuing all that grind.”

On how much better he needs to be

Thibodeaux has said in the past that he is “disgusted” by last year’s film. Here, he added that there’s no standing pat in the quest for greatness.

“If you are not growing, you are losing. If I don’t become a better player, I am going to be out in three years. That’s the truth to the NFL,” Thibodeaux asserted. “Just understanding that if I want to be here for a long time, it has got to be a continuous growth. T-Mac (special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey), he always talks about kaizen, which is the act of continuous growth. So just respecting the game and continuing to grow.”

On having Azeez Ojulari back

Thibodeaux commented that he and Azeez Ojulari try not to run into each other near the quarterback, but it’s always good to meet there. He talked about learning to build chemistry with Ojulari and playing in sync with each other.

On the opportunity to get preseason work

Thibodeaux was disappointed that he didn’t get the chance to play in the first preseason game against the Lions.

“I mean, this is football. Even last week, like dude we warmed, but it was like ‘Yo, you are not playing,’ like what do you mean, you know what I am saying? I wanted to go out there in shoes, but no, I mean, I am excited to play, I am excited to unleash what we have been working on, what I have been working on and continuing to use this game as a platform for growth.”

Coaches tend to want to keep their best players in bubble wrap during the preseason, at least to the greatest extent possible. Still, considering that Brian Daboll completely shut down the idea that Daniel Jones wouldn’t play in the preseason, Thibodeaux will likely suit up in the near future. Either way, the joint practices with Detroit gave the team some opportunity to play against the opponent’s first-team, and as Martindale pointed out, Thibodeaux had a couple of forced fumbles there.

Notwithstanding Rick Spielman’s comments about Thibodeaux’s effort in comparison to Aidan Hutchinson’s, the Giants’ edge rusher may have a higher ceiling than the Lions’. Thibodeaux put in the effort on the field when it mattered most. He’s keeping a growth mindset heading into his second season.