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Giants Now: Dex picks up right where he left off

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Dexter Lawrence picks up where he left off in 2019

Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence enjoyed a promising rookie campaign. The No. 17 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft started all 16 games for Big Blue last season, finishing the year with 38 tackles (24 solo), 2.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, nine quarterback hits, one forced fumble and one pass defended. His performance earned him a spot on the Pro Football Writers Association's All-Rookie Team.

Ten defensive players were selected before the Giants took Lawrence, yet according to Pro Football Focus, only one defensive rookie had more games with an overall grade of 80+ in 2019 than the Giants' rookie defensive lineman.

Not only was he the 11th defensive player selected in the 2019 draft, but he was also the fourth defensive tackle taken. The Jets selected Quinnen Williams with the third overall pick, the Bills took Ed Oliver with the ninth pick and the Dolphins nabbed Christian Wilkins, Lawrence's teammate at Clemson, at No. 14. In a talented class of rookie defensive tackles, which includes the previously mentioned players along with fellow first round picks Jeffery Simmons (Titans, 19th overall pick) and Jerry Tillery (Chargers, 29th pick), Lawrence finished with the highest overall grade of any rookie at the position.

In Monday's season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Lawrence picked up right where he left off last year. The second-year defensive lineman finished the game with four tackles (three solo), one sack, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hit.

Lawrence's performance earned him a 77.3 overall grade from PFF, which ranked 13th among all interior defensive linemen. Through the first 17 games of his young career, Lawrence has received high praise from the analytics site after nearly every contest.

Saquon Barkley looks to elevate all facets of game

Saquon Barkley and his offensive coordinator today delivered figurative stiff arms in response to what has become the media's issue of the week regarding the Giants: the third-year running back's pass protection skills.

The tempest was ignited when Tiki Barber – the Giants' career rushing leader- criticized Barkley for his pass protection.

Barkley, who rushed for six yards and caught six passes in the Giants' 26-16 season-opening loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Monday night, has received criticism for his blocking in the past and he's not losing sleep after hearing it again.

"Obviously, Tiki is a legend," Barkley said. "He has done a lot of great things for this franchise. I'm not going to look at it as disrespect, I'm going to look at it as a challenge. Same thing with him, like everyone else, I really don't care about outside opinions. I'm really focused about the opinions in this building. Try to come to work every single day and get better."

Barkley said pass protection is just one point of emphasis in practice, because he continually works to elevate all facets of his game.

"I come to work every single day with the mindset, try to improve in everything," he said. "Focus on the little things. Whatever the drill is, focus on that. If it's the pass game, focus on catching the ball, if it's pass pro, if it's run game, focus on making the run cuts and the right reads. When I'm in the open field work on my moves and work on finishing scoring touchdowns.

"I know this is going to be the question or the kind of the theme of this media session about my pass pro. I understand that I probably made some mistakes in pass pro and I put it on film. I know it's going to keep coming, people are going to keep challenging me. It's a good way to keep me in and stop me from getting to open space and making plays there too also. I just have to keep working at it, keep getting better and that's going to be my same answer for the rest of the pass pro questions."

Photos: Giants hit the field to gear up for Bears

View photos from Thursday's practice as the New York Giants prepare for their first road game of the season when they travel to Chicago to take on the Bears on Sunday.

View photos of Thursday's practice as the Giants gear up for their first road game of the season in Chicago.

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