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Giants Now: Kayvon Thibodeaux's impressive first step


Kayvon Thibodeaux's impressive first step

Last week, Next Gen Stats chose outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux as a player poised to make a big leap this season.

In his first opportunity to support that notion, the second-year pass rusher delivered.

Thibodeaux picked up a sack of Panthers QB and No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young, while getting in the face of the rookie quarterback on another play. The 22-year-old had an impressive average get-off of just 0.67 seconds in Friday's win over Carolina, according to Next Gen Stats.

"If you are not growing, you are losing," Thibodeaux told the media last week about his potential improvements in Year 2. "If I don't become a better player, I am going to be out in three years. That's the truth to the NFL. Just understanding that if I want to be here for a long time, it has got to be a continuous growth. (Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey) T-Mac, he always talks about kaizen, which is the act of continuous growth. So just respecting the game and continuing to grow."

Thibodeaux played 14 games as a rookie and finished the season with 49 tackles (33 solo), four sacks, six tackles for loss, 13 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, five passes defensed and one defensive touchdown.

The 6-foot-5, 258-pound former Oregon Duck finished the season strong as three of his four sacks came in the final five games of the regular season. This led to him finishing fourth in the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.

Thibodeaux showcased his dominant potential against the Washington Commanders in Week 15. The outside linebacker finished with 12 tackles (nine solo), a sack, three tackles for loss, and a forced fumble which he recovered and returned for a touchdown.

"I thought that in Detroit, on Tuesday and Wednesday, I think he caused two fumbles and recovered two fumbles," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said last week. "I expect him to be at the top of everything, and so do we. I've talked to him about his practice. I think that he heard me clearly. I talked to him in front of the entire defense. So, Kayvon is going to be fine, first of all. Like I said, he caused two fumbles, and he recovered two fumbles. In the two days, we had, like, eight takeaways against, what were they, a top five offense last year, which gave us confidence in ourselves and the way we competed there."

View the best photos of Giants outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux.


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