Giants’ Kayvon Thibodeaux embarking on a ‘Kobe Year’ to ascend his game

The New York Giants are expecting big things out of second-year pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux. After selecting Thibodeaux with the fifth-overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Oregon product went on to have a solid rookie season, finishing fourth in voting for AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.

As he enters his sophomore season, Thibodeaux is feeling the pressure to elevate his game. In a recent interview with NFL Network’s ‘Good Morning Football,’¬†Thibodeaux shared his intentions to ascend his game as he embarks on a season that defensive coordinator Wink Martindale believes could be his “Kobe year.”

Giants’ Kayvon Thibodeaux embarking on a ‘Kobe Year’ to ascend his game

Kayvon Thibodeaux is channeling a basketall legend for inspiration this season. Thibs is doing his best to embody Kobe Bryant, a Hall of Fame athlete known for his incredible work ethic that propeled him to success during his career. Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is encouraging Thibodeaux to adopt Bryant’s mindset in an effort to ascend his game in 2023.

“Wink talked about it kind of in our closing meeting, but he looked at me and he told me that this year could be a year to be like a Kobe year in a sense that, if I put the work in, I’ll be able to kind of ascend my game and be a guy that the team kind of leans on,” Thibodeaux said on Good Morning Football.

“But I definitely do feel like there’s more pressure on. I don’t think it’s gonna really affect me, but I do definitely know that it’s a big year for me and if I do what I have to do, I’ll make big gains…”

Thibodeaux expanded on the meaning of a “Kobe Year,” saying:

(Kobe year) really just means grind. At the end of the day, football is football. The game is going to take care of itself, but everything that I can control to continue to ascend myself into the player that I want to be as far as my training, as far as my body, as far as knowing the game and as far as making sure that I’m on top of the playbook and everything else. Then even bringing my teammates along as far as rookies or the events and kind of creating that chemistry among us.

Kayvon Thibodeaux via Good Morning Football

Thibodeaux described Martindale as a “player’s coach” during the interview. Martindale has succeeded in building strong relationships with his players throughout his career, conneting with them off the field and motivating them to succeed on the field.

Martindale recentl described Thibodeaux as a “sturdy” pass-rusher that he believes is primed for a breakout campaign. Thibodeaux taking the next step could be the key to the New York Giants’ defensive success in 2023.