The New York Giants struggled to stop the run last season, to in order to shore up that part of the defense, general manager Jerry Reese focused on bulking up the middle of the defensive line.
Following Chris Canty's release from the team after four seasons, the team replaced him with former Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins, who is slated to start alongside Linval Joseph, but they will get competition from the others in camp.
Second-round draft pick Johnathan Hankins has looked really good early on and even claims to be a "run-stuffing specialist," which will come in handy to their unit, and former Pro Bowl tackle Shaun Rogers is healthy and has seen snaps on the first team from the veteran presence he provides. After those four is Marvin Austin, who has to rebound from injuries and being a non-factor since being drafted, former Eagles defensive tackle Mike Patterson, veteran signee Frank Okam and former draft pick Markus Kuhn, who is currently on the PUP List.
That's seven players who could be looking to fill at most, five spots on the team, which is why the competition at camp has been fierce and one that defensive captain Justin Tuck has told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York has referred to as one that's heating up.
"I see a lot of guys making our defensive coaches and coaching staff’s job very difficult," Tuck said. "The competition is very heated in that group. I really don’t see anybody out of that group that won’t have a job somewhere. Obviously we can’t keep them all. Everybody in our defensive line room, I think, has an opportunity to play somewhere this year. And that’s rare."
Tuck noted that Hankins has been one of two people in camp that has really caught his attention. The other is a potential protege of his in third-round draft pick Damontre Moore, who will see time at both defensive end and linebacker.
"The two rookies we have on our D-line have stood out," Tuck said. "Moore has been explosive, he is still very raw. But you can see the talent and the potential there. Hank is quiet and he is more polished. You can tell he’s obviously had a great coach and played big-time football [at Ohio State]. Both of them have but Hank seems to be a little more polished right now. But the potential of Moore is off the radar right now."
In the past, Tuck had lined up as a defensive tackle as well to use his speed to push past the interior lineman, but with the Giants considering switching to a 3-4 defense in 2013, Tuck could see some time at a pass-rushing linebacker, which could add another dynamic to a defensive line that needs to show improvement if they want to contend.
Photo Credit: Mike Gannon
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