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5 Things We Learned

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5 Things We Learned: Deonte Banks 'growing every week'


The Giants have a short week following Monday night's win over the Packers.

After an off day Tuesday, the team returned to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center to begin preparations for this weekend's game against the Saints.

Giants coordinators Wink Martindale, Mike Kafka and Thomas McGaughey had their usual Thursday press conferences, where they touched on a variety of topics heading into Sunday's game.

Here are five things we learned.

1. Kayvon 'doesn't allow himself to have a ceiling'

Kayvon Thibodeaux picked up a half-sack against the Packers Monday night, along with eight total tackles and his third forced fumble of the season. It marked the second straight game with a forced fumble for the second-year outside linebacker and the third consecutive game with at least a half-sack. Dating back to the first month of the season, Thibodeaux has recorded at least a half-sack in eight of the past 11 games and is now up to 11.5 on the year. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale had nothing but high praise for the young edge rusher enjoying a breakout sophomore campaign.

"We've talked about it before, and I've thought about it even more. I said that the guy has no ceiling," Martindale told reporters Thursday. "You remember me saying that before. The reason why he doesn't have a ceiling is because he doesn't allow himself to have a ceiling. He's in here working every day. He and (Outside Linebackers Coach) Drew (Wilkins) are in there watching tape from everything from A to Z because that's what he does. He's dropping in coverage, and they handle all that. So, I can't say enough about his work ethic, and he has that knack.

"To me, he's a finisher at the football, whether it's a sack, a strip sack, or the play you saw on Monday night when we had (Packers quarterback Jordan) Love held up and he dug the ball out. He's leading the defense. I mean, he's a vocal leader out there. Like I already said, it's crazy, because the guy is only 22 years old. He's becoming that football savant in the NFL where he sees things before they happen. He knows what's coming. That's a testament to, like I said, he and Drew Wilkins, and how hard they study the game. It's fun to watch."

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

2. Waller designated to return

The Giants received some positive news early Thursday as tight end Darren Waller was designated to return to practice.

Just one day earlier, head coach Brian Daboll told the media that the veteran tight end, who was placed on injured reserve after suffering a hamstring injury against the Jets in Week 8, was "making progress" and "getting closer" to a return. Well, the 31-year-old took a big step in the right direction Thursday by returning to practice.

Waller still remains on injured reserve, and the Giants now have 21 days to activate him to the active roster. The tight end is hopeful he can suit up this Sunday in New Orleans, although his status for Week 15 remains unclear.

"Definitely what I want to do, and what I've been used to doing, is like 70-80 snaps a game," Waller said Wednesday when asked what kind of workload he feels he can handle. "Coming out the first week, probably not that, but as far as a number that's solid that can contribute in whatever ways he (Daboll) needs me to contribute but also be fresh. Assuming that's realistic, I plan on contributing given the opportunity."

Waller has registered 36 receptions for 384 yards and a touchdown in eight games.

3. Banks 'growing every week'

Throughout his rookie season, Deonte Banks has been matched up against some of the league's top wide receivers. Despite cornerback being considered by many to be one of the toughest positions to play as a rookie, Banks has been up for the challenge. The 22-year-old led the team with a personal-best 12 total tackles to go with one tackle for loss and an impressive pass breakup to save a touchdown.

"I thought it was awesome," Martindale said about Banks preventing a deep touchdown pass. "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."

Banks is now up to 11 passes defensed on the year, good for the second-most among all rookie cornerbacks, to go with two interceptions and 55 total tackles (44 solo).

4. DeVito "constantly learning"

A lot has been said about the play of quarterback Tommy DeVito over the last month. The undrafted rookie has landed himself in the national spotlight due to his strong play dating back to Week 11. From NFC Offensive Player of the Week, to a two-time Rookie of the Week, to three consecutive victories, DeVito has proven that the moment is not too big for him. More importantly, he has looked completely comfortable in the offense, a process that begun back in May when he attended the team's local pro day.

Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka discussed the process of developing a young quarterback and what the team saw early on from DeVito.

"When you have young quarterbacks, there's always that growth process and so you're always figuring out what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are," Kafka said. "I think Tommy, on tape looking back, he was very comfortable in the pocket. He had a very nice, compact throwing motion. He can get out in space and run around a little bit, he's athletic. So, the things you saw in college, you try to take some of things, how they fit into the offense and as a young player, you're just constantly learning and learning and growing. For him, it was the mental side of it, so building our routine with him and how we can build and help him be a professional quarterback."

For the first time all season, the Giants did not allow a single sack in the win over the Packers. DeVito played a big role in that. On several occasions, the 25-year-old would tuck the ball and run as soon as he began to feel the pocket collapsing around him. Kafka acknowledged Thursday that this was a key part of the offensive game plan heading into Week 14.

"Yeah, we emphasized it," Kafka said about DeVito's rushing production Monday night. "Just the scramble drills and guys working for him and Tommy just stepping up in the pocket and if he saw a lane, being decisive and taking it. I think it's just kind of the feel of listening to your feet as a quarterback as you work through your progressions."

5. Crowd noise

When getting ready for a matchup against the Saints in New Orleans, it's imperative to prepare for the crowd noise. The Superdome is known to be one of the loudest atmospheres, as Saints fans have garnered a reputation for being one of the loudest fan bases in the entire NFL. The Giants practiced indoors on Thursday to try to simulate the crowd noise the team will face this weekend. However, this will not be DeVito's first experience playing in front of a rowdy crowd, as his first NFL start back in Week 10 came in Dallas. Kafka believes that first start in Dallas will help the rookie quarterback handle the crowd noise.

"His first start was in Dallas, in a dome, it was loud, one of those kind of atmospheres and this week will be no different," said Kafka. "It's a loud atmosphere, it's a good defense so we've got to make sure to prep the right way."

Speaking of crowd noise, as soon as Wink Martindale took the podium Thursday, he made sure to give a special shout out to the 12th man on Monday – the fans at MetLife Stadium. Giants fans were electric throughout the entire game, which Martindale said gave the defense a boost.

"The big thing walking away, leaving the parking lot, the fans were incredible," the defensive coordinator said. "I mean, they were the 12th guy, definitely, for us defensively. When you've got 80,000 people like that cheering for you, it was an awesome experience for everybody involved."

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


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