Kyler Fackrell stepping up for Giants D
Kyler Fackrell has had a solid start to his tenure with the Giants.
After signing with the Giants in the offseason, Fackrell has made several impact plays through the first five weeks of the year. He intercepted a pass in the first quarter of last week's game against the Dallas Cowboys, which he returned 46 yards for his first career touchdown. Fackrell has already registered two sacks on the season, topping his sack production from last season, while also picking up a pass defensed and two quarterback hits, all while starting only two of five games.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Fackrell's performance this season has been his ability to get behind the line of scrimmage. Heading into Week 6, Fackrell is tied for third in the NFL with six tackles for loss, just three behind the league-lead.
While Fackrell has only played 64 percent of the defensive snaps through the first five games of the season, that number is likely to increase significantly moving forward with Lorenzo Carter out for the season and Oshane Ximines on injured reserve for at least a few more weeks.
Fackrell isn't the only Giant among the league leaders on the defensive side of the ball.
James Bradberry has had a phenomenal start to his 2020 campaign. In five games, Bradberry has shut down some of the league's top receivers, such as JuJu Smith-Schuster, Allen Robinson and Amari Cooper. The 27-year-old has recorded an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery this season, but it's been his ability to break up passes that has really stood out.
Bradberry leads the NFL with nine passes defended, two more than anybody else in the league.
The veteran corner has earned an 85.7 overall grade from Pro Football Focus this season, the second-highest mark among all cornerbacks. His 87.3 grade in coverage also ranks second among qualified corners, trailing only Green Bay's Jaire Alexander.
Markus Golden willing to do whatever it takes
Six years in the NFL has taught Markus Golden that what happens in one game has no bearing on what might occur the next time a team takes the field.
In the first quarter of this season, Golden became a part-time player. He was on the field for just seven defensive snaps in the Giants' loss to the Rams in Los Angeles on Oct. 4 and 67 in the first four games. In 2019, he led the Giants with 10.0 sacks and was third with 917 defensive snaps.
But instead of pouting, complaining or revealing even a hint of anger, Golden simply went about his business.
"Not frustrated at all," Golden said today of his early season workload. "I've been in the league for a while, so I know some weeks you can get a lot of plays, other weeks you can't get lot of plays. My focus every week is the same no matter what. Whether I'm starting, whether I'm backing up, it's go hard in practice, learn the game plan and prepare like I'm starting. I don't allow that stuff to get me frustrated. I just try to focus and take it one day at a time and be ready when my name is called."
It's been called. Last week in Dallas, Golden played 57 snaps when Lorenzo Carter left the game after just 10 plays because of a torn Achilles tendon. Carter joined fellow starter Oshane Ximines, who is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury (and will be eligible to return in two weeks).
The absence of Carter and Ximines, who are in their third and second seasons, respectively, has created opportunities for the more seasoned duo of Kyler Fackrell, a five-year pro, and Golden. The two veterans are expected to get the majority of playing time when the Giants host the Washington Football Team Sunday in MetLife Stadium.
Each made contributions against the Cowboys. Fackrell earned his first career interception and touchdown when he picked off a Dak Prescott pass and returned it 46 yards for the Giants' first defensive score of the season. Golden had three tackles, including a sack he shared with rookie Darnay Holmes.
Since Golden re-signed with the Giants on Aug. 4, he and Fackrell, who joined the team in March, have become close.
"(They) sit by each other in their remote learning centers in our meeting rooms the way we're set up," said outside linebackers coach/senior advisor Bret Bielema. "Those two are kind of over there together. They have a rapport on the field. As veterans who were new to this scheme that was a little bit different, they both talked through that and worked through it. I think it's been a nice balancing act between those two and I think to find them out on the field for 50-plus plays together, which has really happened for nobody this far into the season, we really hadn't had two guys playing together for the majority of the game in any of our games to this point. They survived and advanced. Did enough things to make us competitive, but we didn't get a W and weren't able to close that thing out. Those two working with whoever else is in the lineup on Sunday will be a big part of our success moving forward."
Mic'd Up: Blake Martinez in action
Giants.com recently mic'd up defensive co-captain Blake Martinez for a game. Hear him in action in the video below, presented by Oikos.