The New York Giants defense was lacking in 2022, allowing the sixth-most amount of yards on the ground and finishing in the middle of the pack against the pass.
That has led to changes at all three levels of the defense. In the secondary, top tackler Julian Love is gone (signed in free agency by Seattle) and there will be some new faces left to pick up the slack.
One constant the Giants are relying on is former second-round pick Xavier McKinney, who spoke about being surrounded by such players as free agent Bobby McCain and rookie Gervarrius Owens.
“It’s all been good,” McKinney told reporters at the Giants OTA session on Thursday. “I think we’re all on the same page. It’s been fun just being able to build with whoever’s out there, whether it’s a rookie, whether it’s a vet. It really doesn’t matter for us. As a unit, as a DB room, we like to be all as one. We like to be on the same page. We know no matter who’s out there, we’re always trying to get better and trying to work.”
Also in the mix are two players with limited experience — Jason Pinnock and Dane Belton — and then the rookies who will be playing cornerback and in packages this year such as first-round pick Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins.
“A lot of growth. They’re showing a lot of just willing to listen, willing to get better, willing to work to compete,” McKinney said of the younger faces. “I try to kind of get on them a little bit from time to time just to make them go a little harder, try to see what buttons I can push. But it’s been fun having them out there.”
The defense as a whole has gotten deeper and more talented, a fact that has not gotten past McKinney.
“I think everywhere. I think as a team, I can’t really pinpoint one specific place,’ McKinney said when asked where he thought the Giants got better this offseason.
“I think as a defense I’m happy, and I know everybody else is extremely happy to have (defensive coordinator) Wink (Martindale) back. So just another year in the system. Just being a lot more comfortable knowing what he wants to call (and) when he wants to call it. I think all in all it’s been great, and — like I said, I can’t pinpoint one thing, but I know that we’re building something special based on what we have.”
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