The New York Giants‘ defensive line carried substantial hopes as they ventured into the 2023 season. Their unit boasted the likes of second-year pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, sturdy interior defender Dexter Lawrence, and the seasoned Leonard Williams.
Ojulari’s Struggles Continue
Amidst these Giants, eyes were on young outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari to rise, especially after an injury-riddled 2022. Last season, in a mere 252 snaps, Ojulari recorded 20 pressures and secured six sacks. When present on the field, the 23-year-old was a force to be reckoned with. Yet, the challenge was his continued struggle with injuries.
Fast forward to 2023, and Ojulari’s battle with injuries persists. After a hamstring setback, he recently endured an ankle injury during Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins.
His performance this season, a total of five pressures in 95 snaps, all against the Seattle Seahawks, has been inconsistent at best. In encounters with teams like the Dallas Cowboys and the Dolphins, his impact was barely noticeable.
Historically, Ojulari’s knee concerns in his early career saw him slip to the second round of the draft, where the Giants secured him with the 50th pick. Ironically, the knee hasn’t been his primary concern. Injuries ranging from the calf, hamstring, to the ankle have plagued his first three NFL years.
Currently, with him likely sidelined for Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills, it’s clear that the “injury-prone” tag fits him. A potential loss could see the Giants slip further to a 1–5 season standing, pushing any hopes further away.
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A Greater Concern for the Giants
However, even with a fully fit Ojulari, the team’s woes aren’t limited to the defensive end. The real Achilles heel for the Giants lies in their offense. Until the offensive line finds cohesion and forward momentum, the Giants might have to brace for a challenging season marked by defeats.
Now, the team seems to be gearing up for the 2024 draft, probably looking for a new quarterback. But ending this season on any positive note could offer a glimmer of hope for the future.