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What to expect from the defense after the bye week

Posted Oct 22, 2014

Giants defensive coaches discussed the performance of the defense thus far and what may change after the bye week

1. DE Jason Pierre-Paul will move around.

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Stingy against the run all season, Pierre-Paul got things going in the pass rush department last week against Dallas for one of his best performances in recent memory. Pierre-Paul had six solo tackles, two sacks, three tackles for losses and three quarterback hits. Defensive line coach Robert Nunn credits better planning for opponents throughout the week by Pierre-Paul, who could be moved around in the future to keep offensive lines guessing. But there’s no need when he’s playing as well as he was on Sunday.

“We are going to move him around. At times, like last week, he didn’t want to move,” Nunn said of Pierre-Paul’s first two-sack game since 2012. “He wanted to stay over there. He is comfortable over there. With the success I could see he was having, I wasn’t going to move him. He was comfortable. He was having a great game. He had an outstanding game, but sometimes that gets hidden when you don’t win. He is off to a good start if he stays healthy. He has to continue and I am confident he will.”

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2. The Giants are testing the waters with more three-safety looks.

The coaching staff made a change at safety midway through the season when the Giants replaced Stevie Brown late in Week 3. Quintin Demps took over the following game to play opposite Antrel Rolle and has started every game since then, recording two interceptions along the way. But Brown saw time last week as part of a three-safety look, which the Giants have used in the past, including their 2011 Super Bowl run.

“The fact that we used to play the three-safety package a ton back in the day was because of the fact we had three veterans who were able to play,” secondary/safeties coach David Merritt said. “I am talking about Kenny [Phillips], Antrel and you had Deon Grant. Right now we feel like we tested the waters and we have the same right now in our camp here with the Giants. Hopefully with Stevie Brown going down, or Antrel going down in the slot position, it would benefit us.”

3. Nunn saw DT Johnathan Hankins’ breakout coming.

Midway through his second season, Hankins is second only to Pierre-Paul in sacks on the Giants with 2.5, including a key quarterback takedown on fourth-and-1 that sealed the Giants’ victory over Atlanta in Week 5.

“You felt it at the end of last year. You saw him start to come along,” Nunn said. “You saw it in training camp with his pass rush showing up in one-on-ones continuing to push the pocket. Is it a surprise? Not too big of a surprise. He has shown that. I have been impressed with Johnathan as far as being a professional. What he did in the offseason – he went away and came back in here in great shape. He went home and finished some school up and you could tell he was focused when he came back in here. He is off to an outstanding start and I look for big things from Johnathan.”

4. DT Cullen Jenkins’ injury could create an opening for third-round pick Jay Bromley.

Much like Hankins last season, Bromley has bided his time behind skilled veterans, suiting up for just one game so far this season. But Jenkins was forced to leave early in the Dallas game with a calf strain and could miss some time moving forward. That could mean a bump up for Bromley.

“He has shown steady improvement,” Nunn said of Bromley. “Now he is going to get some opportunities with Cullen being down. He has shown the ability to rush the passer. He has to continue to improve on first and second down run and pass stuff. If he does that, he is going to be on the field more and more.”

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5. LB Jacquian Williams took a giant step forward.

In his fourth NFL season, Williams has settled into a consistent starting role for the first time in his career and leads the Giants with 49 total tackles at the break.

“To me, Jacquian has taken a giant step forward because he’s a three-down player now,” linebackers coach Jim Herrmann said. “He’s very effective on first down, second down and third down. To me, he wants to be as good as he can be and play every down. That was his big goal going into the season, he told me, ‘Coach, I want to play every down. I want to be out there every down. I just don’t want to be a nickel linebacker, a third down linebacker, I want to play every down.’ He’s worked hard at studying the run game on first and second down and has done a good job.”

6. CB Prince Amukamara’s juggling is paying off.

Hard work and health have Amukamara playing the best football of his four-year career. The starting cornerback is currently tied with Rolle for most interceptions on the Giants with three, already matching Amukamara’s career total heading into this season.

“As a tribute to him, he has worked very, very hard in the offseason, in the classroom, on the practice field, to get better,” secondary/cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta said. “We said, ‘Hey Prince, you’ve got to improve your hands, try juggling in the offseason,’ and he did. He learned how to juggle. He is doing everything he can to make himself a better football player to become one of the top corners in the league.”

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7. LB Devon Kennard took invaluable game reps last week.

Kennard, who missed Weeks 2-4 with a hamstring after an impressive training camp for a rookie, has worked his way back mostly on special teams but did see time on defense last week when Jon Beason went down again with a lingering toe injury. And while the team evaluates Beason’s status over the bye week and beyond, Kennard is another rookie that will be asked to step up.

“It was good to see him get out and get some game experience because that is invaluable for a young linebacker,” linebackers coach Jim Herrmann said. “He was able to go in and perform. He did his job. Those are the things you are looking for. You can always help him keep growing as a linebacker. The other guys love him. He’s got a great personality and he wants to be great. To me, that’s what you want. I think we’ll see some really good things out of him. He’s what you want.”