Giants 2nd-year pass-rusher looks primed for a breakout 2023 season

New York Giants linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) warms up before the game against the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have a star in the making on the defensive end. Second-year EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux is ascending into elite status as he is primed for a breakout 2023 season. Thibodeaux flashed his elite potential in Week 2 of the preseason, exhibiting his array of skills that will propel him into a huge second season.

Kayvon Thibodeaux looked stellar in preseason Week 2

Matched up against 2022 first-round left tackle Ikem Okwonu, Thibodeaux demonstrated elite pass-rushing capabilities in the Giants’ second preseason game. He only played 19 snaps on Friday night, but Thibodeaux made the most of his playing time. He was in the backfield on several occasions, getting his first sack of the year and pressuring Panthers QB Bryce Young with a QB hit on a separate occasion. Thibodeaux also made a tackle for loss in run defense.

Thibodeaux setting high expectations for his second season

Thibodeaux is looking to take that next step in 2023 because, as he and special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey say, there has to be “continuous growth.”

“If I want to be here for a long time, it has got to be a continuous growth,” Thibodeaux said. “(Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey) T-Mac, he always talks about kaizen, which is the act of continuous growth. So just respecting the game and continuing to grow.”

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Thibodeaux can transform the Giants’ defense in 2023

As a rookie last season, Thibodeaux was an impactful player despite not stuffing the stat sheet. He totaled only four sacks, but three of those sacks came in New York’s final four games, indicating that Thibodeaux was starting to take a jump in development by season’s end.

He had some growing pains as a rookie, however, Thibodeaux also had flashes of brilliance. Unfortunately, throughout much of Thibodeaux’s first season, he was forced to play as the team’s primary edge rusher as Azeez Ojulari was hampered by injuries. If Ojulari can stay healthy this season, he and Thibodeaux could combine to create one of the deadliest pass-rushing duos in the NFL.