Giants’ Kayvon Thibodeaux receives praise from legendary pass-rusher

New York Giants linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) reacts after sacking New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) during the second half at MetLife Stadium

Kayvon Thibodeaux is having a breakout campaign despite the New York Giants’ disappointing 2-6 start to the season. The second-year pass-rusher has come into his own, exploding his way to 8.5 sacks through the first eight weeks of the season, ranking tied for fourth in the NFL.

Thibodeaux’s emergence has garnered attention in recent weeks and earned him praise from NFL legends. Former Houston Texans pass-rusher J.J. Watt is the latest legend to give praise to Thibodeaux, saying the Giants’ young star is “a lot of fun to watch.”

J.J. Watt praises Kayvon Thibodeaux

In a recent appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, Watt was asked about some of the top pass-rushers in the NFL right now and highlighted Thibodeaux as a rising superstar.

“He’s sitting there at 8.5 sacks on the year now,” Watt said on the Pat McAfee Show (h/t “I mean, he’s in the top 3 for sacks. He’s playing good ball. He’s getting after the quarterback, he’s got some moves that are coming along, he’s got some power, he’s got some speed.

Thibodeaux’s 8.5 sacks far surpass his total of four from last season. Halfway through the year, Thibodeaux has already doubled his sack total and is on pace to set a new career-high in pressures, too. However, Thibodeaux’s 24 pressures on the season currently rank second on the team behind only Dexter Lawrence.

Thibodeaux certainly benefits from playing alongside Lawrence on the Giants’ defensive line, something Watt recognized while singing the young edge rusher’s praises.

“They obviously have dogs on that defensive line. I mean, Dexter Lawrence is incredible. This is what they wanted to see from (Thibodeaux). If you can do this consistently in New York, you can turn into a superstar. It’s a lot of fun to watch.”

Thibodeaux is the Giants’ rising star

After being selected with the fifth overall pick in last year’s draft, Thibodeaux has faced much scrutiny since entering the NFL. He entered the league with high expectations and has heard criticism from fans and analysts alike whenever his game has started to falter.

But in recent weeks, Thibodeaux has been on a tear. He’s coming off a career-high three-sack performance against the New York Jets in Week 8 and has recorded all 8.5 of his sacks on the season in just the last six games.

Thibodeaux has turned into a game-changer for the Giants’ defense and has only gotten better with each passing week. As defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has pointed out, Thibodeaux’s potential is limitless.

“Kayvon, like I said, there is no ceiling on him and how good he can be,” defensive coordinator Wink Martindale told reporters Thursday. “It’s his personality. It’s his work ethic. It’s how he was raised. It’s all those different things that go into it, and how much he likes to receive coaching. Like I said, he’s a guy that I always want to be around, and that makes it fun to come to work.”

Thibodeaux is aiming for double-digit sacks

With 8.5 sacks on the season, Thibodeaux is nearing the illustrious double-digit milestone — a threshold he is eagerly chasing.

“It’s only up from here,” Thibodeaux said per The New York Post. “The bar keeps continuing to move and I’m proud of that.”

But, at the end of the day, individual accolades don’t mean much to Thibodeaux. While he is chasing new career highs, he is also keeping the priority on winning football games.

“We’ve just got to keep winning,” Thibodeaux said. “I don’t want to pride myself in individual stats and goals, but I do want to make the Pro Bowl. I do want to be in the running for the Defensive Player of the Year. Obviously, we are not playing the best as a team, so individual success doesn’t come without team success, so I’m not worried about it, but it’s dope to be in this position and be a guy that is successful, too.”

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