EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** The Giants today strengthened their run defense when they signed free agent defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis.
The 6-4, 346-pound Ellis comes to the Giants after playing his first four NFL seasons with the Jets.
"I am a run-stopper and I like doing it," Ellis said. "That is the strength of my game. I look forward to helping the Giants get back to their glory.
"By default, that's who I am. I'm a journeyman. I come in and do my job. You don't get much recognition for it, but you get the job done and it helps out the team. I'll take on the double-teams and take on the work no one else wants to do. It's just who I am. I take pride in what I do, which is being a big man in the middle and try to make sure no one runs the ball."
Last season, the Giants finished 30th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (135.1) and 32nd in yards-per-carry (4.9). With Ellis as one of their anchors, the Jets finished fifth (93.1) and sixth (3.8) in the same categories.
Photos of DT Kenrick Ellis' career with the Giants and Jets
"We took a lot of pride in it while I was there, and I want to take the same pride here and start something special," Ellis said.
He joins a group of defensive tackles that includes 16-game starter Johnathan Hankins, Cullen Jenkins, Markus Kuhn and Jay Bromley. Another tackle, Mike Patterson, is a free agent.
Ellis has played in 47 games with five starts. His career totals include 66 tackles (40 solo), one sack and a forced fumble.
In 2014, he played in 14 games and had nine tackles (seven solo) and his first career sack on Dec. 1 vs. Miami.
Check out players who have played on both the Giants and the Jets
Ellis entered the NFL as a 2011 third-round draft choice (94th overall selection) from Hampton University of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
"At first, I felt like an underdog," Ellis said of moving from an unheralded football school to the NFL. "I worked hard and that's the great equalizer. If you work hard, you can do anything. That's what I did and eventually I became comfortable. After a couple of months, you realize these guys put on their pants just like me. I'm not going to lay down because you came from a big school. We're here because we're all good."
As a rookie, he played in five games with two starts and was credited with six tackles. The following season, he missed four games with a knee injury but played in 12 games and had 24 tackles (14 solo) and a forced fumble. In 2013 Ellis played in all 16 games with one start and finished with 27 tackles (17 solo).
Although his focus is on joining the Giants – "it's the same city, but a different side of the city. It makes it easier because I don't have to move" – he is currently preoccupied with another athletic endeavor.
The Hampton Pirates basketball team last night defeated Manhattan in an NCAA Tournament First Four game and tomorrow will faced top-ranked and unbeaten Kentucky.
And no, Ellis is not predicting an upset victory.
"I'm excited we got that win against Manhattan," he said. "I look forward to watching the game against Kentucky. I just want it to be competitive. I hope we win. If it happens, I'll say I told you so."
Infographics of the Giants' free agent signings