The New York Giants, as most know, spent an absurd amount of money on their defense this offseason. Shockingly, one position on the defense that the Giants chose not to spend much money on is the linebacker position.
The young Devon Kennard leads the Giants linebacking corps. Kennard has been a starter on the Giants’ defense for the past two years now and has the experience to become a leader for the position. Rather than signing one or two immediate starting linebackers, the Giants brought in a lot of low-end linebackers to create heavy competition for training camp.
Kennard, though having his starting spot presumably locked up, finds his position to be quite competitive.
“It is really competitive, you know," noted Kennard. "We have guys who played significant roles in different situations and it is making it interesting and it is going to be a good camp.” Competition is great for training camp and the Giants seem to believe they have the necessary players at the linebacker position to win football games and help lead this pricey defense."
Kennard has said that one thing he wants to work on before the regular season is his skills in coverage. On the first play of training camp, Kennard came up with an interception. When asked if making an interception in the early stages of that training camp practice was his goal, Kennard replied, “[The ball] just happened to come my way. It was a wheel route by Will Tye and I leveraged myself well and made it hard for him to get the ball in there. It was a good play." Kennard knows that anyone can make an interception at any time, and though he seems to be blowing off that specific play, it is definitely a confidant booster to make a big play in the early stages of training camp.
As Kennard has made clear, the Giants as a linebackers group need to be much better in pass-coverage this season. As the NFL is becoming more of a “passing league”, the defense is becoming heavily relied on to stop the pass. Furthermore, Kennard was asked how much of the workload now as a linebacker is focused on defending the pass.
“I think it is essential. At linebacker you have to be able to obviously stop the run, but it’s a pass happy league and there are a lot of good quarterbacks, receivers, tight ends and skill players out there, so you have to be able to defend the pass.”
Kennard was spot on with his answer. The linebackers can either win or lose you a game, as the Giants learned the hard way last year against the Dallas Cowboys when Jason Witten caught the game-winning touchdown in the seam with a linebacker, Uani’ Unga, in coverage.
Overall, Kennard made it clear that pass-coverage is the main goal for the linebackers as a unit. From a personal standpoint, Kennard knows he is a leader for this Giants’ defense, and with that title, it is Kennard’s job to bring his unit to the next level.