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Notebook: Rookie Deonte Banks steps up

DEONTE-BANKS

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Wink Martindale knew what the Green Bay Packers wanted to do, and he needed Deonte Banks' help to prevent them from doing it.

The Packers like to attack opposing defenses by running to the edges and forcing opposing cornerbacks to get physical. Before the Giants hosted Green Bay on Monday night, Banks, the Giants' rookie corner, had 43 tackles, including 35 solo stops, in 12 games, numbers that were less than imposing. Martindale was certain the Packers would test the Giants' first-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Banks responded hugely. He had a game and season-high 12 tackles (nine unassisted), including one for a loss and several key stops, in the Giants' 24-22 victory.

"I thought it was awesome," Martindale said this week. "He is just growing and growing and growing every week as a corner and starting to see things faster than what he has seen before. You're starting to see that in his play. I love the fact that he had 12 tackles, because I challenged him all week on making some tackles. I said, 'You're going to keep getting tested out there until you start tackling people.' So, I thought he stepped up and played really well."

Frankly, so did Banks.

"I could say it's my best game, but I also missed out on some opportunities, so I wouldn't really say it was my best one," Banks said. "It was a cool game for me. It was a good game.

"I feel like their offense just gave chances on a lot of tackles, because they were on the edge a lot and doing a lot of jet sweeps trying to get on the perimeter."

Adoree' Jackson, the Giants' seventh-year corner, has been a mentor to Banks since the rookie's arrival.

"Twelve is a lot of tackles, but that goes to show what we harp on a lot, 11 heads to the ball and making tackles," Jackson said. "That's too many for a corner. I like it though. He had a TFL (tackle for loss) in there, which was nice, PBUs (pass breakups), and some forced incompletions. That's a hell of a game to have all those stats."

Martindale said Green Bay wasn't the first team to use an outside run strategy against the Giants.

"That really started with New England (on Nov. 26)," he said. "That was their answer, to get the ball outside and make all our corners, not just Tae, tackle. It was awesome that he played the way he played."

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 15 matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

It was another demonstration that Banks has progressed as the Giants hoped he would when they chose him 25th overall in the draft. He has started all 13 games and is on track to become the first Giants rookie cornerback since the 1970 merger to start every game in a season.

"One of my goals was to start Week 1 and I've been starting the whole season," Banks said. "I'm happy to be available for my team."

Banks has played 86% of the defensive snaps (100% in seven games, including in each of the Giants current three-game winning streak). His 55 tackles place him fifth on the team, he often covers the opposition's most dangerous receiver, and he leads the Giants with 11 passes defensed and is tied at the top with two interceptions.

"I actually want five picks," Banks said. "I have four games (remaining). I got to get three more. I was aiming for 15 pass breakups. I think I'm four away for that. Five picks and 15 pass breakups. That's all I wanted to do. That's kind of the year I wanted."

"It's good to set goals for yourself to try to obtain them and reach them," Jackson said. "The team success always goes off individual success as well. Individually, trying to get those goals is going to help us out as a team and we're just all going to play better. So, having those goals and setting goals is always good."

Who's to say he won't get them? Banks was one of five cornerbacks taken in the draft's first 32 selections and his numbers compare favorably with the other four:

Table inside Article
Name/Team/Draft No. Games/Starts Tackles INTs PDs
Deonte Banks, Giants (25) 13/13 44-11-55 2 11
Devon Witherspoon, Seahawks (5) 12/12 46-19-65 1* 16
Emmanuel Forbes, Commanders (16) 10/4 25-2-27 1 10
Christian Gonzalez, Patriots (17) 4/4 14-3-17 1 3**
Joey Porter Jr., Steelers (32) 13/7 29-7-36 1 7

*97-yard TD vs. Giants.

**On injured reserve since October 7

"Tae's been consistent for a rookie in a tough position," coach Brian Daboll said. "He's done a really nice job all year. Another competitive, young player who loves the game of football."

Banks was a confident player when he was drafted and nothing that's happened this season has chipped away at his belief that he can be a top-flight pro.

"I feel like I have come a long way mentally, just knowing what to expect and knowing what's going on," he said. "I just feel like I keep getting better every week.

Banks played in just 30 games in four seasons at the University of Maryland, with a high of 12 in 2022. He's on 13 and counting this year but isn't concerned about running into the proverbial rookie wall.

"I just play football," Banks said. "I love playing football, so really just going out there and playing football and doing what I love. I really don't see a wall. I don't really feel a wall. I just want to go out there and keep going."

*Tackle Evan Neal (ankle) is listed as doubtful for the game Sunday in New Orleans. If he is inactive, Neal will miss his fifth consecutive game.

*Left guard Justin Pugh (calf) was limited in practice and was added to the injury report as questionable. Also questionable are defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence (hamstring) and tight end Darren Waller (hamstring), who has not played since suffering his injury on Oct. 29. He returned to practice this week.

"I'm getting used to catching some balls from the (Tommy) DeVito sensation," Waller said. "But no, it's a good week. So, we'll see how it goes for Sunday, but I was able to do everything they asked me to do in practice. … I'm going into it with the mindset of playing. We'll see what happens."

Waller said he would "probably not (get) 100% of the workload. There will probably be a certain number of reps they're looking at as far as like a pitch count. I don't know how many that would be. I don't know if it would be certain situations in the game. I've just got to figure it out, but it would probably be a lot less than 100%."

View rare photos from the all-time series between the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints.

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