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New York Giants’ Justin Trattou, Adrian Tracy to Compete for Fourth DE Spot

June 16th, 2012 at 10:14 PM
By Casey Sherman

For most NFL teams the fourth defensive end on the roster may not be of utmost importance, but for the New York Giants its a very pressing matter. The Giants defense, or entire team for that matter, is unique because of how strongly it's success relies on its pass rush. For GM Jerry Reese and Co. finding the right player to replace former Giants' Defensive End Dave Tollefson is crucial.

Perhaps Giants' great and future Hall of Famer Michael Strahan is most responsible for this mindset the Giants organization has when it comes to defense. When he broke the single season sack record in 2002 racking up 22.5 sacks, he proved that having a formidable pass rush was the key to winning. Since then Giants management has brought in players such as Mathias Kiwanuka, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, and most recently Jason Pierre-Paul.

For those of you wondering who will be his replacement, Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell has an answer. When asked about it, Fewell announced that Adrian Tracy and Justin Trattou are expected to compete for the fourth DE position.

Adrian Tracy is a natural linebacker from the College of William and Mary, selected by the Giants in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He’s a versatile player who can play defensive end as well as rush the edge from the linebacker position. After dislocating his elbow in the preseason of his rookie year, he was signed to the practice squad where he has remained for the last three seasons. Tracy has shown flashes of talent in the last couple preseasons but has yet to earn any meaningful playing time on the official roster.

Justin Trattou was signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent from the University of Florida. Justin is keeping his hopes of getting playing time for the league’s best d-line realistic.

"There’s no doubt about it: this is the best defensive line in the NFL—period . So, being on this team, watching and playing with them, it’s  definitely a group that I want to be a part of. If you can be a part of this group of defensive ends, you can play on any team in the NFL."

It will certainly be interesting to see which of these two young talents will prevail and join the ranks of the most feared pass rush in the NFL. One thing is certain, the winner will need to work as hard as Tollefson who will most definitely be missed by the team and the fans. Stay tuned to Giants 101 for further updates.

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Tags: Adrian Tracy, Dave Tollefson, Football, Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Trattou, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Osi Umenyiora, Perry Fewell

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11 Responses to “New York Giants’ Justin Trattou, Adrian Tracy to Compete for Fourth DE Spot”

  1.  SimonGC says:

    Okay so here’s why I disagree with the focus of this entire article: Trattou and Tracy are, at best, fighting for the fifth DE spot on this team…

    You heard it here first, folks: Mathias Kiwanuka is going to be, mostly, a defensive lineman this year. Here’s several reasons why.

    1) The Giants have always seen Mathias as a DE (and even DT) before an LB, and have only moved him to LB because A) they’ve had need there and B) there are usually enough good DE’s to go around.

    2) The Giants have a bigger need at DE (or DL) this year.
    2a) It’s easy to say that having JPP and Tuck starting and Osi rotating in is enough, but with Tuck’s health issues of late and Osi really being at his best in passing situations, there’s plenty of room for Mathias to play DE on first and second down. Plenty.
    2b) You’re Perry Fewell, you need someone go in there and take a snap at DT (regardless of situation, and regardless of whether you’re spelling Canty, Joseph, or anyone else), and the two guys standing next to you are Rocky Bernard and Mathias Kiwanuka…who are you sending into the game?
    2c) Oh, what’s that? Some kind of problem arose (injury, inefficiency, act of God…?) and you need someone to play linebacker. No harm, no foul. Kiwanuka can always slide into whatever role you need him for a play, a series, a game or the season.

    3) But here’s the big one: you don’t need him at LB anymore. The only reason he ever played at LB is because A) he was good enough to do it, B) they had a need there, and C) they want to get their best players not he field.

    This year, getting your best players on the field is going to mean LB reps for Keith Rivers and Jacquian Williams (and maybe even Mark Herzlich if we’re lucky). Sure, the downside here might be Chase Blackburn playing a bigger role in base defenses with Kiwanuka spending all his time in the DL meetings, but that’s far from the worst case in the world.

    Get back to the four SCARY defensive end rotation; these guys will be all over the field, harassing QB’s from every possible angle, with depth to spare and all the bodies keeping EVERYONE’S legs fresh.

    There will be plenty of talent at LB to handle business, what with Michael Boley, Keith Rivers, Jacquian Williams, Mark Herzlich and Chase Blackburn ready to go, and guys like Jones and Paysinger as depth.

    Kiwanuka should, and hopefully will, be wreaking havoc from the DL this season, where he’s at his best…

    •  Paul Tierney says:

      Keeping Kiwanuka at LB makes the defense better because you get to keep one of your better players on the field for more snaps. If he plays mostly DL, then he is the 4th DE on the roster and only sees limited action. Don’t get me wrong, I think we will see Kiwanuka lineup on the DL during passing situations this season; however, we should expect the majority of his snaps to come from the LB position.

    •  romu says:

      Kiwanuka was our best LB last season. I’ll wait for some solid, NFL starting caliber production from his potential replacements to make him a DE.

      Plus, Williams and Rivers are not SAMs. I think we need Kiwanuka at LB on 1st and 2nd.

      People making Boley a PBer should watch some of the late season games. Covering Witten, Finley, Driver, Welker or Hernandez may not be the easiest thing in football, but still, his play was far from all pro …

  2.  SimonGC says:

    So while we’re making pre-training camp predictions: Dwayne Hendricks is your third DT on the roster this year.

    Enough of Rocky Bernard and Shaun Rogers. Those guys are battling for #4. Every time the guy has been on the field he’s tossed guys around. After two years on the practice squad, I expect him to crack the roster and stick.

  3.  kujo says:

    I agree with the idea that the desire to get our best players on the field at the same time has become somewhat more complicated than it has been in the past, what with the rise of JPP, and the growth of talent in our linebackers. You can also add our defensive backs to that equation, since we now have 3 front line starters and a whole battery of backups who will all be pushing for playing time.

    I don’t think Kiwi is the particular player who necessitates an entire change in the defensive scheme, though. In fact, he’s the embodiment of a new breed of player that the Giants crave. His versatility allows you to move him all over the place, whether it’s at DT, DE or LB. Knowing that, I’ll imagine they’ll use him the same way they’ve been using him for several years–in a variety of situations and packages. Similarly, I’d wager that at least one of these young cornerbacks gets time at safety to increase their value to us. It’s how we do things now. Why have 1 player who can play 1 position, when you can have several players who can play several positions?

  4.  Luv2Salsa says:

    They won’t cut Austin, no matter how many Twinkies he consumes. They’ll go with 4 DT’s on the roster. I see Canty, Landfill, Austin and one of the vets Rogers/Bernard. Rogers was highly regarded with this board, but with the Jake for Rocky swap, I wonder if some red flags went up in OTA’s regarding Rogers.

  5.  Luv2Salsa says:

    I have a gut feeling Tracy is going to make it. He’s flashed so far and is getting some love from the coaching staff. He can probably play a little SAM, too. So he might be a valid short term fill-in for Kiwi, should he get nicked. I bet we see Rivers at SAM at some point…too many WIL’s right now.

  6.  fanfor55years says:

    First, Happy Fathers Day to all fortunate enough to be a father already. Sure, it’s a Hallmark holiday, but in this culture one day that creates an excuse to acknowledge fathers for all they do is an important ritual.

    Second, great discussion here. I’m with kujo in that I think the Giants are increasingly going after “flexible” athletes who can play multiple positions, and now have a number of them. That’s all good because what it does for your depth is astounding.

    I think getting Kiwi on the field as often as possible is critical. He is a real impact player. So while Simon may be right about where he plays, I think he’s a year early in his assessment. This season he will be at SAM, at DE, and sometimes elsewhere. He had a great season in 2011 and will only get better at SAM with more experience.

    I don’t know what team guys like romu and Rosedale Giants were watching last season, but their skepticism is both welcome, and IMO, dead wrong. Among tyhese linebackers are a good number of top-grade players. I don’t know who will be the #4 DT, but when the fight is between Rocky, Rogers and Hendricks there’s no way of losing. Other teams will be looking to see who gets cut so they can sign them up as #3 depth charters. That will also be true of many of the other competitions in camp this season. People who will not make the team would be battling on many other teams for spots higher up their depth charts, in many cases much higher up their depth charts. The defense is LOADED. Why some cannot see that is beyond me.

  7.  fanfor55years says:

    For those obsessing about the “shortcomings” of the 2012 Giants just take a look at the video that Dan posted. In that decade of the 1970′s there was ONE season in which the Giants even had a sniff of the playoffs, and they didn’t make it. They had Clifton McNeil (who wouldn’t be higher than the #6 WR on this team) and Ron Johnson (he’d probably be the #4 running back this season) as their main threats on offense (along with Fran Tarkenton, who was tremendous, but was not Eli’s equal). They had Fred Dryer (he’d be competing for a starting DT spot but would probably wind up as #3) and Spider Lockhart (the ONLY player on that team, IMO, who could have had a chance to start in 2012 but probably would have wound up the #3 corner or #3 safety).

    The 2012 team is very deep, and very talented. This organization has been doing a great job lately, and the results prove it. You cannot do anything about injuries, but I would posit that if not for those the 2009 and 2010 seasons would have been FAR better and we would be talking about how clearly the Giants have dominated the NFL over the past five years, with what looks like a longer run still ahead of us. That’s not fan craziness. That’s a hard-eyed look at reality. Would we have won another Lombardi, making it three in five years? I don’t know, but I do know that without the devastating concentration of injuries in 2009 and 2010 in particular positions the Giants would have made the playoffs under a rapidly improving Eli Manning who could win big games. And we all know all we want to know about 2008. Think about it. The organization has done an incredible job. They know their business. And this year’s squad looks to me like the best Giants team I have ever seen. And it’s not even close.

  8.  GIANTT says:

    Happy Fathers Day to all who are in that acknowledged state . So far it has been , coffee is on and all is quiet .
    A couple of observations , Ive been saying for the last couple of years off and on that one of the Giants strengths is the quality of its backups . Case in point , last year Chase Blackburn couldnt even make the team , but when he was brought back did a sterling job .However , if any of the replacement candidates show even the slightest improvement then I think he will be gone again . And this time picked up by someone elsewhere to be a serviceable (for them ) backup or even starter but not good enough for the Giants .
    As far as players who are position flexible , I think it is definitely a terrific advantage because it does increase the depth of the squad in a pinch . but two points do bother me . First , do you keep a player who is better at only the one position or do you keep the player who is average but can play two positions ?
    Second , it bothers me that many of these players (no names mentioned ) who are dumb enough to only be able to learn ONE position so flexibility is not something that plays any part .
    As far as Kiwi goes , here is a player who definitely has had the skill AND smarts to learn whatever position the Giants have needed him for . If he was a marginal player we would all be applauding his maximum effort to stay on the team but in His case I think it has hindered his development as a one position player . I like him as a player I think he has the skills to be a pro bowl DE and I hope he gets the chance to show it this year and leave the Lb role to the group the Giants have on hand now

  9.  rlhjr says:

    I have and will tell anyone. Tracy is the man and he will prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt this summer. The kids first game at SAM yielded 9 tackles.

    This came at a time when the remainder of Giant starters at any line backing position had never accumulated that many tackles in a perseason or regular season game.

    He is strong, faster than many know and very very smart. Kid is big time.
    But my talk is cheap and it is after all just my opinion. Yes, I’ve seen him play.
    However, now he will have the chance to show.

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