Giants count on youth to shore up defense

The SportsXchange

EAST RUTHERFORD, N. J. -- The New York Giants always knew that one day they would turn to some of their young defensive players to take a significant role in a game.

They just didn't expect it happen this soon.

As the Giants look for their first win this season against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, they will probably turn to their second- and third-round draft picks -- defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and defensive end Damontre Moore.

They are needed to help shore up a defensive line that has three starters on the injury report -- defensive tackles Linval Joseph (ankle/knee) and Cullen Jenkins (knee/Achilles') and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Reserve defensive tackle Shaun Rogers is also listed with a back problem.

The injury situation isn't good news for a defensive front that must face NFL rushing leader LeSean McCoy (468 yards) or an Eagles offense whose 6.9 yards per play is second in the NFL and which thrives on the up-tempo style to keep opponents off balance.

The good news for the Giants is that the kids who have been waiting in the wings are not only bright-eyed but eager to get out there to show that they too belong on an NFL playing field.

"I feel real confident in my skills and in the scheme that the coaches are giving me," said Moore, who last week made some noise with his play on special teams.

"They don't come up with anything ridiculous; they put you in the perfect position and it's been working so far. I'm just going to keep reading the scheme and whatever the tell me to go, I'm like, 'How fast do you want me to go?'"

Moore revealed that he has been getting a lot of coaching from his teammates as well as former Giants linebacker Jessie Armstead, who helps with the coaching during the week. All that help, he says, is an advantage.

"I feel like I'm in a situation to where I really can't fail," he noted. "There's too much help around here. For anybody to fail, it would be one of those things that you would have to go out of your way to do."

Hankins has yet to be active on game days. That could change depending on the severity of the injuries that Jenkins, Rogers and Joseph are nursing.

"I would say I feel a little more comfortable with the scheme, the plays and just going out there and making plays," Hankins said when asked if the game was starting to slow down for him. "I'm not worrying about messing up because this is a game and you're going to make mistakes, but just having a clear mind and going out there and having fun."

Hankins believes he can help keep McCoy in check, noting that run defense was one of the main reasons why the Giants drafted him.

If he can do that, it will certainly be a big boost to a run defense that through four games has allowed 122.5 net rushing yards per game.

"Slow down the quarterback (Michael Vick) and the running back (McCoy)," Hankins said when asked the key to limiting the damage that the Eagles are capable of doing on the ground.

"Those are two very good runners and they lead the NFL in rushing, so I'm going to do my best and our unit is going to do its best to stop that."

Coach Tom Coughlin is looking forward to seeing what the two kids can bring to the defensive line. He is encouraged by what he has seen so far.

"I liked Hankins' work a week ago," Coughlin said. "I thought he was a really difficult guy for us to block from an offensive standpoint (in practice). I really felt like John was ready to contribute and I feel the same way right now, so I'm looking forward to watching him play.

"Moore, obviously if you're talking in that direction, will get an opportunity to contribute as well. He's done a nice job on special teams. He has good energy and hopefully we can build on that."
View Comments