EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Odell Beckham Jr. and Andre Williams are in the headlines, but the Giants also have a defensive rookie making a significant impact in his debut season.
The NFL announced this morning that linebacker Devon Kennard has been selected as the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Giants' 36-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans last Sunday.
The rookie fifth-round draft choice from USC had six solo tackles, including two sacks, two tackles for losses and a forced fumble in the Giants' victory in Tennessee. It was Kennard's second straight two-sack game. Those are his first four career sacks.
Late in the first quarter, Kennard sacked Tennessee quarterback Zach Mettenberger for a six-yard loss and forced a fumble that was returned by defensive tackle Markus Kuhn 26 yards for the touchdown that gave the Giants a 17-0 lead. On the Titans' first play after the score, Kennard's solo tackle stopped Bishop Sankey after a three-yard run. In the fourth quarter, Kennard sacked Mettenberger for a nine-yard loss.
Kennard is the first Giant defender to receive a Player of the Week award since defensive end Justin Tuck in Week 13 of the 2013 season (after he had 4.0 sacks in a victory in Washington). He is the first Giants linebacker to be honored since Mathias Kiwanuka in Week 9 in 2011 against New England (though he is now a defensive end, Kiwanuka was the Giants' starting strongside linebacker in that game).
Check out the best photos of rookie LB Devon Kennard
Kennard is the first Giants defensive rookie to be honored as a Player of the Week. The only Giants rookies to receive the award were Jessie Armstead (special teams, 1993), Matt Bryant (special teams, 2002 – twice), Osi Umenyiora (special teams, 2003), David Wilson (special teams, 2012) and Jeremy Shockey (offense 2002).
Kennard has played in 10 of the Giants' 13 games, with three starts in each of the last four contests. He missed three early-season games with a hamstring injury. Kennard has 32 tackles (25 solo). He is tied with Jameel McClain for second on the team with eight tackles for losses, and is 4.0 sacks rank fifth.