EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -** Kerry Wynn's status as the most anonymous Giants player has reached its expiration date.
The rookie defensive end made the 53-man roster out of training camp as an undrafted free agent from the University of Richmond, a school not known for providing a steady supply of NFL players. But with several veterans ahead of him on the depth chart, he was inactive for each of the season's first 11 games.
Wynn, a 6-5, 264-pounder, made his debut on Nov. 30 in Jacksonville, where he had three tackles, including a half-sack. With Mathias Kiwanuka and Robert Ayers on injured reserve, Wynn's playing time has increased. In a victory over Washington last week, he had seven tackles, including five unassisted stops. Wynn has also moved inside in some packages.
"He has taken full advantage of his opportunity to play," coach Tom Coughlin said. "He has been solid in there. He has been a guy that has defended on the run, he has gotten some hits in there on the quarterback, he has been very close in the sack area and so Kerry has done a nice job. He has handled it and gone on the field and played and he wants more. He is on special teams. He is on defense. He is rotating in and out of there. He really did help a tremendous amount (last week)."
Wynn is arguably the most soft-spoken and modest player on the roster. He said he wasn't frustrated or antsy while spending the first 2½ months of the season practicing during the week, but spectating on game day.
"I know how the business works," Wynn said. "I'm a rookie; I have to wait my turn. Injuries are a part of the game, so I have to be ready when my name is called. I was just working hard the 11 weeks that I didn't play and making sure that whenever my name was called that I was ready for the opportunity and to help produce and benefit the team."
During his game-day exile, Wynn worked hard to stay as sharp as possible.
"I studied film as if I was playing every week," he said. "I wasn't playing on Sundays, so I would maybe get a few extra workouts in a week. I'd try to get a little stronger, a little faster, and take care of my body so when my time came I would be ready to perform."
Wynn played in 32 games with 30 starts at Richmond. His career totals included 145 tackles, 22.5 tackles for losses and 12.5 sacks. In 2013, Wynn started all 10 games in which he played and finished with 56 tackles, 5.5 tackles for losses and 2.5 sacks, and was an All-Colonial Athletic Association third-team selection. The previous season, he started all 11 of the Spiders' games and finished with 45 tackles, eight tackles for losses and 4.5 sacks.
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Wynn hoped those numbers and the impact he had in games would prompt a team to select him in the draft, but he was bypassed by all 32 teams through seven rounds. His reaction was typically dispassionate.
"I thought I was going to get drafted," Wynn said. "But God has a plan for me, so whatever His plan was, whether I get drafted or don't get drafted, I wasn't going to complain about it and just keep working."
That doesn't mean Wynn is above using his exclusion for motivation.
"I always like to wear it as a chip on my shoulder," Wynn said. "I always try to make a little chip on my shoulder. I come from a small town. I used that from the beginning going to a small school and using that as a chip – just trying to find ways to motivate me, and keep me going and keep me hungry."
Wynn said he heard from five teams when the draft concluded. He quickly decided to join the Giants.
"I knew the Giants organization had a good defensive front," he said. "I didn't know a lot about the Giants growing up, but what I did know was that they always had great defensive ends, great pass rushers and that's something that was a big thing for me, wanting to come here and keep it going.
"But I can't be one-dimensional. You've got to add value. Whether I'm playing inside or outside or playing the run or pass-rushing, it adds value and helps the team in more ways than one."
Wynn said his development was accelerated by the help he received from veterans like Jason Pierre-Paul and Ayers.
"Tremendously," he said. "They are always telling me to stay hungry. I'm on the scout team. Week after week after week, they were telling me to stay hungry and stay ready. One time I had the scout team jersey on and Robert told me, 'Take the jersey off. Show them you know your name. Show them the Wynn on your back. That's who you are.' I've been able to ask them questions throughout the season. They're really helpful."
Now their assistance, and Wynn's talent, has resulted in a new addition to the Giants' already-impressive rookie class.
"There are definitely some plays that I wish I had back," Wynn said. "But it's a process and it's only going to get better from here."