As the New York Giants continue to deal with the injuries to defensive tackles Chris Canty, Marvin Austin, and the loss of Shaun Rogers and Martin Parker for the season, there seems to be an unexpected, yet glaring need on the interior of the defensive line. A unit that many considered to be one of the deeper areas on the roster is now relying on unproven entities in Dwayne Hendricks and Markus Kuhn not only to fill out the depth chart, but possibly even to step in and contribute.To offset this issue, defensive end Justin Tuck says he's willing to step in and help.
While at a charity even on Wednesday, Tuck was asked about a possible move to the interior.
“We’ll see. Obviously, I did both and I’ve had success doing both.Wherever the team needs me to help us be successful, that’s what I’m willing to do,” Tuck said.
Although Tuck is most effectively utilized on the outside, he is more than experienced at the defensive tackle position. Earlier in his career, he saw significant time there when Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora were atop the depth chart. As his career progressed and he got better, he was moved primarily to the outside. However, he still sees time in the middle in the team's NASCAR package, which is run in passing situations.
On the field, Tuck possesses an outstanding combination of size, strength, and athleticism. Although 2011 was a down year for him statistically, he has always been one of the most feared, versatile players on the Giants defense. Furthermore, Tuck has a physicality to him that is unrivaled by most other defensive ends in this league. If the team needs him to see an increased number of plays at defensive tackle, he is more than capable of not just filling in, but being extremely productive there as well.
However, the team's hope is that Tuck will be able to keep his traditional role within the defense. Just because there are injuries at the defensive tackle position does not mean defensive coordinator will move Justin Tuck out of a role on the outside that he plays better than almost anybody. Currently, the team does not know what they have in backups Dwayne Hendrickson and Markus Kuhn, but both players looked very good in the team's first preseason game.
Saturday night's second preseason matchup against the New York Jets will give the coaches, players, and fans alike a much better idea of the caliber of talent still healthy on the defensive interior. Hopefully it's enough to keep Justin Tuck playing in his element. However, if it's not, Big Blue has a more than capable alternative to consider when deciding how to utilize their defensive personnel on the interior.
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