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Rookie Owa Odighizuwa makes impact in NFL debut

The day before the Giants traveled to Buffalo, Tom Coughlin held his usual Friday press conference at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.


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The official injury report listed defensive end Owa Odighizuwa as "probable" with a foot injury, meaning it was a virtual certainty that he would be available for normal duty and potentially make his NFL debut. But availability doesn't always mean a player will dress, especially for a rookie whose last meaningful game was the Valero Alamo Bowl in January.

His head coach played coy about the topic, ending answers about the UCLA product with phrases like "if he does get to dress" and "if, in fact, he plays."

Well, he did.

Odighizuwa became the final active member of the Giants' 2015 draft class to make his pro debut and played the majority of the game.

The third-round pick did his part in keeping the No. 1 rushing offense to 55 yards on the ground, nearly 100 yards below the Bills' average heading into Week 4. He made two tackles in the game: one was combined with defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins on a short run by Karlos Williams and the other was a solo takedown of dual-threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who was running an option play. Taylor was held to 15 yards rushing on six attempts for the day.

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"You know what, [Odighizuwa] obviously hasn't played in quite some time and that was a factor there," Coughlin said Monday on a conference call after the Giants' 24-10 victory over the Bills. "But he got in there, he mixed it up. He made a really nice play on the quarterback where he kept the ball on the option. He got himself in position a couple of times where he could have been able to apply some pressure perhaps with a little bit better movement to the quarterback and the passing game. He got in there, he got his feet wet."

The Giants hope it's the start of something more with Odighizuwa and the defense as a whole. Sunday's win was a complete team effort with a long list of players who contributed to the outcome.

"The imprint of a great defense is the guys playing fast, physical, being relentless and swarming," middle linebacker and defensive captain Jon Beason said. "We don't really care about stats, long as we're doing it together. I think that's what makes us special, and you watch the film and it's an example of football. You don't know which guy it's going to be, but everyone is playing hard, getting to the ball, and good things are happening."

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