Giants star pass-rusher feeling the pressure entering 2nd season

New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) talks to reporters after the organized team activities (OTA's) at the Giants training center
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants have big expectations for second-year pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux entering the 2023 season. Thibodeux established himself as one of the league’s most exciting young defensive players during his rookie season. But entering year two, Thibodeaux is feeling the pressure to take a big step forward and improve his game.

Kayvon Thibodeaux on understanding the “truth to the NFL”

In a recent presser at Giants practice, Thibodeaux shared insight on his mentality entering his second season. When evaluating himself and his future, Thibodeaux pointed out the need for improvement and how a lack of growth could force him out of the league sooner than desired.

“This league, if you’re not growing then you’re losing. If I don’t become a better player, I’m going to be out in three years. That’s the truth to the NFL”

Kayvon Thibodeaux via SNY

Focusing on “kaizen,” the act of continuous growth

Too often the NFL witnesses promising players plateau far too early in their careers. Thibodeaux intends to prevent that from happening by maintaining continuous growth throughout his career; something he has discussed with special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey.

“If I want to be here for a long time, it has got to be a continuous growth,” Thibodeaux continued. “(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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Wink Martindale is expecting substantial results from Thibodeaux

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale discussed Thibodeaux in a recent presser, laying out his substantial expectations for the 22-year-old. “I expect him to be at the top of everything, and so do we,” Martindale said to Pat Leonard of the Daily News. “I’ve talked to him about his practice. I think that he heard me clearly.”

Thibodeaux did indeed hear his coach loud and clear, saying Martindale was “preaching to the choir.”

“[Wink Martindale’s] just preaching to the choir. I am a guy who kind of preaches that stuff to myself, and I am a guy who tries to lead in that standpoint. So, yeah, we are talking the same language as always and just continuing to get better. I think that’s the point of camp. It’s easy when you get to practice 15, 16, 17, it starts to get complacent, it gets repetitive. Just continuing to stay fresh, continuing all that grind.”

Kayvon Thibodeaux via Giants.com

The Giants are expecting a breakout season out of Thibodeaux in 2023

After investing the fifth overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft into Thibodeaux last year, the Oregon product went on to have a successful rookie season. Though he totaled only four sacks on the year, Thibodeaux also racked up 40 pressures during his first season with three of his sacks coming in the final five games.

Thibodeaux is embarking on a “Kobe Year” in 2023, looking to elevate his game to new heights. With Big Blue anticipating a breakout season from both Thibodeaux and fellow EDGE Azeez Ojulari, the Giants’ defense could be a scary unit this season.