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Players to Watch: Kayvon Thibodeaux looks to continue sack streak


The Giants have a short week as they look to rebound from Monday's loss to the Seahawks when they travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins.

After three consecutive matchups against the NFC West, the Giants are now faced with back-to-back road games against 3-1 teams from the AFC East, first in Miami and then in Buffalo. The Dolphins picked up their first loss of the season against said Bills in Week 4.

Here are five players to watch in the Week 5 matchup.

WR Wan'Dale Robinson

Robinson made his 2023 debut in Week 3 when he caught four passes (on five targets) for 21 yards. The second-year receiver was on the field for just 11 offensive snaps against the 49ers, but with 11 days between their Week 3 and Week 4 games, Robinson saw his playing time increase significantly against the Seahawks. The 22-year-old played 48 offensive snaps (64 percent) Monday night and finished tied for the team-lead with five receptions, which he took for 40 yards, while his six targets led the offense. Robinson also added a seven-yard run.

The Dolphins enter this matchup with the No. 25 pass defense as they are allowing an average of 251.0 yards per game. Heading into Week 4, Dolphins cornerback Kader Kohou had allowed the third-most yards in coverage (132) among slot cornerbacks in 2023, according to Next Gen Stats. Miami then went to Buffalo, where it fell to the division rival and allowed Josh Allen to throw for 320 yards and four touchdowns. According to Pro Football Focus, Kohou was targeted in coverage five times and surrendered four receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns, although most of that came with him lined up on the outside.

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 5 matchup against the Miami Dolphins.

OL Ben Bredeson

The Giants' offensive line has been in flux throughout the first month of the season. After missing Week 3 due to a concussion, Bredeson was able to return for Monday's game against the Seahawks. The Giants surely needed him, as a first-quarter shoulder injury to rookie John Michael Schmitz led to Bredeson moving over to center for the remainder of the game. Bredeson surrendered just two total pressures on 52 pass block snaps, according to PFF.

"He's a smart guy, knows all our calls, had a bunch of reps in the summer so that was – it's good to have a guy that plays guard that can play center as well," head coach Brian Daboll said about Bredeson.

Schmitz, left tackle Andrew Thomas and guard Shane Lemieux were all sidelined for the first practice of the week. While coach Brian Daboll told the media Wednesday that the rookie center "could play (Sunday) but not ready today," he sounded less optimistic about Thomas.

"I don't know yet," Daboll said Wednesday about the left tackle's chances to suit up this weekend. "I'd probably say leaning towards no but not ready to make that determination."

"I think right now it's just part of being in the National Football League," offensive coordinator Mike Kafka added about the injuries along the O-line. "There's injuries everywhere, we have to be able to adjust and have the next man up mentality and our guys have been great. That's why we've kept them all through offseason, OTA's, training camp and building that foundation with the guys so the next guy who's up, he's ready to rock and roll and that's who we give our trust into."

Miami is tied at 19th in the NFL with 10 sacks on the season, led by linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel's three. But the Dolphins have some talented pass rushers on their roster, including Bradley Chubb, Jaelan Phillips, Emmanuel Ogbah and Christian Wilkins, who have combined for 3.5 sacks this year.

OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux

After going the first two games of the season without a sack, Thibodeaux has picked it up over the last two weeks. The second-year outside linebacker recorded a sack against the 49ers before registering another two against the Seahawks, along with a pass breakup. His three sacks through four games are just one shy of his total last year, a season that saw him finish fourth in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.

"I think that Kayvon wants to win, and Kayvon wants to get better every day," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said Thursday. "Kayvon will get better, he'll continue to get better every day, because that's his personality. I want to see Kayvon every day. He's a good dude. You know what I mean? So, yeah, that's one of the greatest things about coaching. That's why you've been at as long as we have, because you want your guys to have success, so you're excited to see that. I think that he knows what's expected of him. I just told him keep being himself and keep trying to get better. Do everything the best you can do it and as fast as you can do it, and I think that's what you saw against Seattle. I thought he played well."

Thibodeaux's four pressures against the Seahawks matched his pressures from the first three games combined, according to PFF. Lining up opposite Thibodeaux for the first time since Week 1 was Azeez Ojulari, who missed two games with a hamstring injury. While Ojulari did not show up much in the box score (one solo tackle), his five pressures Monday night led the Giants' defense. The third-year outside linebacker was limited at Wednesday's practice, but Daboll reassured the media that Ojulari did not suffer any setbacks.

The Dolphins have done a good job of protecting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa this season. The fourth-year quarterback has only been sacked five times, which is tied for the third-fewest in the NFL. But four of those sacks came in last week's loss to the Bills, a game that saw Dolphins Pro Bowl left tackle Tarron Armstead leave in the second quarter with a knee injury. Earlier this week, Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel told reporters that the tackle will likely be out "weeks not days," putting his status for Sunday in serious doubt.

ILB Bobby Okereke

The inside linebacker has yet to miss a defensive snap and has seen his tackle numbers increase each week. Okereke recorded a season-high 10 total tackles (six solo) against the Seahawks while adding two tackles for loss, two pressures and a pass breakup.

Tackling has been an issue for the defense in the first month of the season. The unit has totaled 39 missed tackles in the first four games, according to PFF.

"I think that anytime that you go through what we've gone through, there's several things that stand out," Martindale said about the team's tackling. "But we put an emphasis on tackling the Seattle week, and you're still going to have missed tackles. It's not like people walk out of games that no one missed a tackle. This is pro football. Those guys get paid, too... We're just trying to get better every day. I think we're going down that path. You saw the way we played."

The defense is faced with another tough challenge this weekend, as the Dolphins enter this game with the league's No. 1 rushing attack. Running back Raheem Mostert has carried the ball 48 times for 249 yards, good for an average of 5.2 yards per carry, and six touchdowns. However, it's De'Von Achane that has truly burst onto the scene in recent weeks. After being inactive for the season opener, the rookie running back has totaled 27 rush attempts for 309 yards and four touchdowns over the last three games. The 21-year-old is averaging an incredible 11.4 yards per carry in his first three NFL outings. Mostert and Achane have also combined for 21 receptions for 168 yards and three additional touchdowns.

CB Deonte Banks

The rookie cornerback has registered three passes defensed, a tackle for loss and 12 total tackles (10 solo) this season, despite facing some tough matchups. Banks was tasked with shadowing Seattle's DK Metcalf on Monday, and while the veteran receiver did catch a touchdown, the rookie held him to just 34 receiving yards. Banks also added two stops in run defense against Seattle.

This weekend's matchup might be the toughest one yet for Banks and the entire Giants' pass defense. Similar to their run game, the Dolphins also currently sport the league's No. 1 aerial attack, as Tagovailoa leads the league with 1,306 passing yards. Tagovailoa's top target is All-Pro receiver Tyreek Hill, who is among the league leaders with his 28 receptions for 470 yards and four touchdowns. Hill and Jaylen Waddle make up what is likely the fastest starting wide receiver duo in the NFL. Banks ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at this year's combine, which should make Sunday's matchup with Hill and Waddle an interesting one to watch.

View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins


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