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2023 Training Camp

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Ojulari brothers make NFL 'dream come true'


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Azeez Ojulari has many reasons to be excited about the 2023 NFL season.

The Giants' third year outside linebacker believes the team will build on its 2022 success and return to the playoffs. He enjoys playing Wink Martindale's defense. And after enduring an injury-plagued season, Ojulari believes an altered offseason regimen will help keep on the field this year.

But perhaps the primary reason for his heightened anticipation is that for the first time, he is not the NFL's only Ojulari. His brother, B.J. – also a pass-rushing linebacker – was the Arizona Cardinals' second-round draft choice this year, No. 41 overall (nine spots ahead of where Azeez was selected in 2021).

"It's great," Ojulari said today after the Giants' eighth training camp practice – one in which he did not participate because he received a rest day. "We're super close. We speak every day, that's my guy, I love him.

"I'm so happy for him. It's like a dream come true for both of us. Two brothers in the NFL. We've been watching the NFL since we were little, so it's like a dream come true, now it's happening. I'm so happy."

Before they reported to their respective teams, Azeez helped his younger brother prepare for his first pro training camp.

"I definitely gave him tips before," Ojulari said. "We chopped it up, a lot. I gave him a little extra tip before we go there, just go there ready to work, man. Every team is different, but at the end of the day it's football and we are playing at the best level."

Both players made the jump from a Southeastern conference powerhouse to the NFL; Azeez played at the University of Georgia from 2018-20, while B.J. was on LSU from 2020-22. Because he made the transition first, the older Ojulari continues to advise his younger brother now that they are both deep into camp.

"I tell him to keep his routine and to make sure to take care of your body, that's one of the main things," Ojulari said. "Football is football. Everybody is better now, guys are bigger, stronger, faster. Just continue to be yourself and work hard. Lock in, learn that playbook mainly, for sure. I tell him to take care of his body, for sure. Every day hit the cold or hot tub, take care of it. The longer you last, the better it is for you and your family.

"He's doing alright. He's grinding out there, getting better. He's excited."

Ojulari has distinct memories of his first Giants training camp.

"It was grind, for sure," he said. "Just getting after it, coming out here going against guys like Drew (left tackle Andrew Thomas, his roommate at Georgia). "It was just great. It was eye-opening; I'm in the NFL now competing against the best of the best. I'm in New York, great organization, great franchise. I'm ready to work."

He does so with an eye toward Sept. 17, when the Giants will play their first road game of the season – in Arizona against B.J.'s Cardinals. It will be the first time they will be on the same field since playing together at Marietta (Ga.) High School.

"We are so excited," Ojulari said. "The whole family is so excited about that, we can't wait."

Azeez had 19.5 sacks in three seasons at Georgia, while B.J. had 16.5 in the same time frame at LSU. Now they can have a rivalry in the NFL.

"We're always competitive," Ojulari said. "Even in college, we tried to keep up. It's going to be fun. Once the season gets started, we are going to try and have a competition."

Azeez's first goal is to remain healthy. In 2021, he played in all 17 games with 13 starts and set a Giants rookie record with 8.0 sacks. Last year, he finished second on the team with 5.5 sacks. He almost certainly would have topped Dexter Lawrence's 7.5 sacks had he played more games. But Ojulari was limited to seven games because of calf and ankle injuries.

"I think he averaged a sack a game, so that's the layup," Martindale said. "He's a pure pash rusher. He's fun to watch."

Martindale is eager to pair Kayvon Thibodeaux, the team's top 2022 draft choice, who had 4.0 sacks as a rookie, more often with Ojulari.

"It's going to be exciting," Thibodeaux said. "For him on paper, you know how many sacks he had to how many plays he had, so just knowing that, I mean, if you can get him 17 games, who knows how many sacks you'll get? He's definitely one of the most talented pass rushers I've ever played with. So yeah, I'm excited to really get it going."

To honor his end of the bargain, Ojulari took steps to be a more frequent participant in 2023.

"Really just more stretching," he said. "More stretching (and) incorporated some yoga into my routine, and those were the main two things that I really added.

"It's very exciting to be out here and practice with my teammates and just be available for my team. Just out there working hard every day, just trying to get better."

And preparing to out-do his brother.

View photos from Friday's training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

*Defensive lineman Leonard Williams did not practice because he received his second consecutive rest day…Sterling Shepard did not participate for the same reason…Defensive lineman Ryder Anderson did not practice because of an arm injury suffered yesterday, but coach Brian Daboll said, "he'll work through it."…Offensive lineman Jack Anderson is sidelined with an undisclosed injury that Daboll said, "is not anything long term."

*Quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney and his wife, Emily, are celebrating the birth of their first child, a girl born late last night.

*The Giants signed nose tackle Donovan Jeter and waived wide receiver Jeff Smith with an injury designation.

*Jeter, 6-3 and 325 pounds, played in one game for the Washington Commanders in his 2022 rookie season. On Sept. 18 in Detroit, he had one tackle while participating in 18 defensive snaps and seven on special teams. The University of Michigan product entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2022 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He spent about a month on the Commanders' practice squad after being waived. Jeter was with the Chicago Bears from Jan. 10 until he was cut on Tuesday.

*Smith is a five-year veteran who was signed as a free agent by the Giants on March 17. He injured his knee last week in practice.

*The Giants Foundation will host a 5K race and kids run, presented by Quest, on Sunday, October 8th at 9:00 a.m. at MetLife Stadium. Net proceeds from the event will benefit The Giants Foundation. After the race, runners will enjoy a post-race festival with appearances by Giants Legends and a live DJ. Registration is now open at



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