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Why Wink Martindale is Excited About Giants' Defense

Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale likes how his first Giants defense is starting to take shape.

New York Giants defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale couldn't hide his excitement even if he tried. 

"I’m excited. I’m happy with where we are at right now defensively," Martindale said Monday in his first public comments since training camp started. "I think personnel and Dabs have done a great job of gathering some smart, tough, and dependable players. 

"We’re going to be on the process of the next three preseason games finding out who’s the smartest, the toughest, and the most dependable – because all three of those factors are what we’re going to build on."  

Before he arrived in East Rutherford, the Giants defense, on the whole, wasn't on the same level of dysfunctional as the offense was. But Martindale, who is bringing his brand of "aggressiveness" to the Giants, is looking to take the unit to new heights this season.

The Giants defense had a few question marks coming into the season, the biggest one being the defensive backs. The team moved on from safeties Logan Ryan and Jabrill Peppers, and it was forced to cut cornerback James Bradberry due to a salary cap crunch. 

But so far, the Giants defensive secondary--corners Aaron Robinson and Adoree' Jackson and safeties Julian Love and Xavier McKinney--have been holding down the fort, as has nickel back Darnay Holmes and rookie draft pick Cor'Dale Flott.

"I love our first group of secondary players, and now we’ve just got to keep building on the depth of that secondary," Martindale said. "I’m excited to see them play against another team. It’s going to be fun to watch. That’ll be a process, and I’ll keep you all up to date on that."

While Martindale is a fan of all his players, one guy in particular he mentioned is fourth-year safety Julian Love, a guy who in his NFL career has done a little bit of everything on defense and who will finally get an opportunity to be a starter this season.

"Yeah, I mean those guys you can move around are fun to coach because the number one thing is how football smart he is," Martindale said of Love. "He understands little things, and it’s a valuable piece to have when you’re putting a defense together in this league."

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Another player Martindale is excited to have his rookie first-rounder Kayvon Thibodeaux, who has been one of the training camp stars. Thibodeaux, Martindale said, has impressed with his work ethic and football intelligence.

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"He’s just gone to work, and it’s all about football, and he is very smart, football-wise," Martindale said. "It’s like I was talking about with Julian--(Thibodeaux) is a smart football player. I’m just excited to see where his growth takes him."

Martindale confirmed that there is an open competition at inside linebacker, where the Giants added rookies Darrian Beavers and Micah McFadden in the draft to challenge incumbents Blake Martinez and Tae Crowder.

Martindale did seem to downplay the assigning of the green dot-- the sign that represents which helmet has the radio in it--to safety Xavier McKinney instead of to an inside linebacker, as is usually the case. 

Martindale hinted that he might mix up the assignment of the green dot, depending on the opponent and the defense that needs to be run each week. He also insisted that it's not as big of a deal as some have made it.  

"All we’re doing is just echoing the plays, and then we all echo it and communicate," he said. "You put it in different spots during training camp because you want to see everybody communicate. It’s the same thing in the meetings. I know I run a different style meeting than everybody else. But it’s because I want people talking."

That open communication between players and coaches is what Martindale hopes will bring the defense together to reach its goals of becoming a top-ranked unit. 

"It’s a process, and you get a defense that comes together because they all know each other, and they’re not afraid to communicate, they’re not afraid to work out problems, they’re not afraid to celebrate together," he said. "In building a unit, that’s what you do."

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