Kayvon Thibodeaux strives for Giants’ rookie sack record


Kayvon Thibodeaux answered the question — Do you know how many sacks Azeez Ojulari had last year as a rookie? — as quickly as he has turns the corner.

“Eight-and-a-half,” Thibodeaux said.

You knew that?

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Is that a reasonable goal for you?

“Uh, yeah. That’s the record.”

You want the rookie record?

“I mean … I wouldn’t not want it, so …,” he said, and laughed, and everyone laughed along with him.

Here, someone informed Thibodeaux that LT — Lawrence Taylor — recorded 9.5 sacks in 1981 before sacks became an official stat.

Thibodeau whistled. “Shout out to LT,” he said.

No one should possibly be expecting No. 56 when No. 5 struts his stuff for Giants fans for the first time in the second preseason game Sunday night against the Bengals.

“They’re relentless, that’s it. They don’t hold back. No sugarcoating in Giantland,” he said.

Asked if he liked that from his new fan base, Thibodeaux said: “I mean, it don’t really matter, to be honest with you. It’s all talk.”

Giants rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux looks on at training camp, Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J.
Giants rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux looks on at training camp.
Corey Sipkin

What should encourage Giants fans is the raging competitive nature of the fifth pick of the 2022 NFL Draft.

To wit: He has already put Ojulari, his partner in crime, on notice.

“I told him yesterday at a meeting, like everything he does I want to do it better,” Thibodeaux said, “whether it’s eating, sleeping or breathing, I’m gonna try to do it better. Just continuing and set a standard and continue to chase it and create that competitive banter.”

Iron sharpening iron.

“He said, ‘Yeah, it’s on,’ ” Thibodeaux said. “He’s got goals that he wants to reach, and we’re just gonna keep pushing each other to get there.”

Then there is the urgent matter of settling scores in practice with left tackle Andrew Thomas.

Kayvon Thibodeaux
Kayvon Thibodeaux
Getty Images

“I’ve been on the right ’cause I’ve been having this chip on my shoulder with Andrew, just making sure that I continue to keep going after him,” Thibodeaux said. “I gotta even up the score. He kinda got ahead a little bit, now I gotta even it back up.”

Thibodeaux doesn’t need to ask defensive coordinator Wink Martindale about a few extra reps from that side. His teammates oblige him.

“I just talk to the guys and I say, ‘I need him,’ ” Thibodeaux said.

Offensive line coach Bobby Johnson has observed Thibodeaux up close and personal, against Thomas and right tackle Evan Neal.

“I think he’s a special player,” Johnson told The Post. “I think he’s got all the tools, obviously that’s why he was picked where he was picked. I see a guy who’s hungry, who’s constantly working … and he’s got a magnetic personality, I just see a good team guy that knows his role and is trying to get better every day. I appreciate his humbleness and work ethic.”

Defensive line coach Andre Patterson has returned to practice following a medical issue.

“He’s got a fast get-off, he’s got good quick twitch to him, he’s got a long arm, he’s long, he’s able to use those,” Patterson said. “And I think the No. 1 thing is he has a natural feel of what to do at the top of the rush. But like I always say, the offensive linemen in the NFL are the No. 1 technical group in the National Football League. So you gotta learn how to use technique to win as a rusher in this league. You just can’t win off of athletic ability.”

No worry about any complacency with Thibodeaux.

“I feel like you can’t use every move on every person, right?” he said. “You have to know specifically who you’re going against, and you have to tailor your moves to them.”

Thibodeaux, eager for more than 14 snaps this time, is passing all the smart, tough, dependable tests.

“He’s a different guy than most young players,” assistant defensive line coach Bryan Cox told The Post. “He talks about things that most young guys don’t talk about.”

Such as?

“The city … cigars … like he has a big personality,” Cox said. “Big nature about him. Expect big things out of him from Day 1.”

For these reasons:

“He has strength, he has get-off, he has intelligence, he can set an edge,” Cox said. “He has all those things working for him, and it’s just a matter of how soon they come together.”

Kayvon Thibodeaux: young man in a hurry … to get to the quarterback.


Source link