New York Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale offers high praise for rookie pass-rusher

Anthony Rivardo
new york giants, kayvon thibodeaux
Sep 26, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) in action during the first half against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Kayvon Thibodeaux is on his way to being a superstar. The New York Giants landed the proficient pass-rusher out of Oregon with the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft. Thibodeaux was a surprising selection for the Giants. Some believed he wouldn’t still be on the board after four picks, others thought the Giants would rather target an offensive lineman. Instead, Big Blue landed a premiere pass-rusher in Kayvon Thibodeaux with the fifth pick and their desired cornerstone offensive lineman in Evan Neal with the seventh pick.

It’s been a rocky season for the Giants’ pair of 2022 first-round picks as both have dealt with knee injuries. Thibodeaux was able to return from his injury in Week Three and immediately make an impact in the starting lineup. Since entering the lineup, Kayvon has been a constant in the opposing backfields, despite producing only one sack on the season. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has recently offered high praise for his rookie pass-rusher as the Giants prepare to face the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Wink Martindale is glad that Kayvon Thibodeaux is a Giants

On the year, Kayvon Thibodeaux has played in seven games, totaling 18 combined tackles, 3 quarterback hits, 3 passes defended, and 1 sack (a game-winning strip sack against the Baltimore Ravens). While not necessarily stuffing the stat sheet, Thibodeaux is still playing at a high level in the eyes of his defensive coordinator. Wink Martindale explained that the “sacks will come,” and that he sees a lot of “selfless work” from Kayvon Thibodeaux.

I just think the kid is playing great. It’s just like takeaways or anything else, the sacks will come. The other thing is to look at the holding calls he’s drawn, you know you look at the whole picture. He drops well in coverage. I can’t say nothing but positives about how he’s playing. How he’s chasing after the football like a veteran, studying like a veteran, leading like a veteran. So, I’m really glad he’s a Giant.

Wink Martindale on Kayvon Thibodeaux via Giants.com

Martindale offered high praise for Kayvon, explaining the qualities he enjoys out of the rookie, while also describing him as the defense’s can opener. Kayvon is the catalyst to get things going according to Wink Martindale.

“I always say we’re gonna open up a can of whoop-ass. Well, he’s the can opener.”

Wink Martindale on Kayvon Thibodeaux via @SNYGiants on Twitter

Kayvon Thibodeaux is described by Martindale as having an “old soul” and a level of maturity that is not possessed by most rookies. Kayvon himself is not disappointed by the lack of sacks he has totaled on the year, recognizing that one stat does not tell the full story.

It doesn’t bother me. I think this is the greatest thing because it gives me a chance to keep working, to keep getting better, to keep having that chip on my shoulder.

As long as the defense can leave with four or five sacks per game, then I’m okay if I don’t get one. But if no one gets one, then it bothers me because we’re a team.

Kayvon Thibodeaux via Giants.com

The New York Giants will face off against the Detroit Lions this Sunday as they look to improve their record to 8-2. At 7-2, the Giants are firmly in the playoff hunt, and that will be the main storyline heading into each week. But a secondary storyline for this Sunday’s games will be Kayvon Thibodeaux versus Aidan Hutchinson.

Thibodeaux was drafted fifth overall despite being considered at one time as a top prospect in the draft. Kayvon ended up being the third pass-rusher selected in the first round. Detroit went with edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson who currently leads the Lions and all rookies with 5.5 sacks on the season. Giants fans will hope to see Kayvon Thibodeaux shine bright and outperform his draft classmate, leading the Giants to their eighth win of the year.