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How Kayvon Thibodeaux is Winning Over His Giants Teammates

Rookie edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux is a confident, larger-than-life personality who is quickly showing his new teammates he's a solid football--and team player.

Like the rest of his New York Giants teammates, defensive lineman Leonard Williams was curious to learn more about edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, who had a reputation for having a larger-than-life personality.

So after spending a week on the gridiron and in the classroom with the rookie, what did Williams think?

"Honestly, I thought he was going to be more than he is just because from what you see on TV and from his draft dance, stuff like that. I was like, 'This guy is definitely a character,'" Williams said Thursday after the Giants wrapped up their third OTA of the week.

"But meeting him in person, he's a humble guy, and he's ready to work. He's one of the first people to go in there when we need a look and things like that. I'm definitely impressed with those things."

The Giants were so impressed by Thibodeaux--his personality, his work ethic, and of course, his tape--that they made him the fifth overall pick in this year's draft. That's a significant addition to a pass-rushing unit that has lingered in the middle to lower part of the league the last few years but is looking to up its game under new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale.

Thus far, Williams said, the rookie has kept his head down and has come to work, which has enabled him to quickly earn the respect of his veteran teammates and the coaching staff.

"It's like small things where we have a few guys on defense giving the ones like -- or giving whoever like a show look, and if they need like an offensive lineman or something like that, he's one of the first ones to run in there and give a look," Williams said of Thibodeaux.

"I appreciate things like that from top picks because he knows that there's still more that he has to give to the team. Just because he got drafted high doesn't mean that he can't help out."

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And what about the football part of it?

"I mean, it's just been a few practices so far, but you can still see guys' attributes, and in the three practices we've had so far, he's shown great speed, great pass rush IQ, and stuff like that," Williams said.

"He knows when to try to speed around a corner; he knows when to try to beat a guy inside... So far from what I've seen, he seems to have a good understanding of reading the offensive lineman’s set and stuff like that."

And the personality?

"Some people from the media or TV might think that he's a big personality, and he is," Williams said. "He's a confident guy, in a good way, though. He's confident, not too cocky or anything like that, and he knows he's a rookie. He knows when it's time for him to do his duties as a rookie and stuff like that. He's a good kid."

Both Williams and Thibodeaux, despite playing different positions and not being a part of the same meeting room, figure to play a large part in Martindale's plans for an aggressive, attack-style defense.  

In two and a half seasons as a Giant, Williams has 18.5 sacks, including an 11-sack season in 2020. Thibodeaux, in three seasons at Oregon, recorded 19.0 sacks.

Add in the return of second-year man Azeez Ojulari, the Giants sack leader last year with 8.0, the Giants have a potentially blue-chip pass-rushing unit.

"Whenever you have top guys in any position, it's going to help out a lot. I definitely have a lot of confidence in him and Azeez," Williams said of the talent infusion to the pass rush.

"It's going to be great for me inside and playing with guys like that that will make the quarterback step up, and if I'm playing in the middle and they're doing their job, I'm going to make them roll out to them and vice versa. We feed off of each other." 

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