When Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard left as free agents in the offseason, Giants fans were right to worry about the depth on the defensive line. Bernard had been a stalwart against the run, and Canty was a versatile player who could defend the run and also rush the passer when it was called for.
After a busy offseason and, the defensive line is now completely revamped. Cullen Jenkins and Linval Joseph were brought in as veteran free agents from the Eagles, while Johnathan Hankins and Damontre Moore were added with New York's second and third round draft picks, respectively.
"I see a lot of guys who are making our defensive staff's job very difficult," noted Tuck. "The competition is very heated in that group. I really don't see anybody out of that group who isn't going to have a job somewhere. Obviously we can't keep them all, but everyone in that defensive line room has a chance to play somewhere this year. And that's rare."
If Pierre-Paul can't start in Week 1, the Giants still have Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Moore to rush the passer. That's not even counting Adrian Tracy, who has developed into a pretty good pass rusher after three years in New York's system. On the inside, Jenkins and Patterson should provide support to Linval Joseph. Veteran Shaun Rogers and rookie Hankins should be more that adequate as reserve players.
"We've got a good group," said Tuck about the defensive front. "The two rookies on our D-line have stood out. Moore has been explosive. He's still very raw, but you can see the talent; you can see the potential there. Hank is quiet. He's more polished. You can tell he's had great coaching, he's played big-time football. Both of them have, but Hank just seems to be a little more polished right now, but with potential, Moore is off the radar right now."
The Giants have more depth at tackle right now and would probably prefer Moore to be the more polished rookie, but beggars can't be choosers. The rookie out of Texas A&M won't need to be more than a pass-rushing specialist if Pierre-Paul and Tuck are healthy.
Meanwhile one of the forgotten men on the line is Marvin Austin. He was drafted with a second round pick in 2011, but missed his entire rookie season with a torn pectoral muscle. Last season, he was limited by a back injury and only played in part of eight games.
"Last year I felt good coming into training camp. I worked hard, was in shape and everything," explained Austin. "And then I had the back injury and stuff. That really took a lot out of me. I lost all the strength in my right leg. I couldn't run. I couldn't do anything for a month. That's why I sat out all of those games. I felt like I came back a little too early; I never got a chance to heal."
Now that he's finally healthy, Austin is convinced that he can add to New York's strength on the interior.
"I feel really healthy now," said Austin. "Taking all the proper precautions, making sure my core is strong. Making sure my body is as strong as it can possibly be. If you watch the film, you can see that I'm a totally different player than I was last year."
Just as it is during every training camp, we only see the players at their best. The team looks great on paper now, but we won't really know if it has improved until we see it in action.
"We won't know that until we start playing games," said Austin on how the revamped line will perform. "The names don't mean anything compared to what we're doing on the field. I can't really say anything about that until we go and play against the Cowboys and these other teams and see how well we do against them."