The Giants defense in the Perry Fewell era has always been predicated on bringing pressure, especially off the edge with the DEs, but the 2014 edition promises to be different.
This past offseason saw a sea change in the Giants' approach to playing defense. GM Jerry Reese witnessed how a balanced defensive attack could win a championship when the Seattle Seahawks, led by their "Legion of Boom" secondary, won Super Bowl XLVIII with ease over Denver.
One of those Seahawks defenders, CB Walter Thurmond III, signed a one-year "show me" deal with the Giants in March. At minicamp in June, Thurmond proclaimed himself "the best slot corner in the league." So far this summer, Thurmond is backing up that boast.
Fewell was asked his impression of Thurmond on Thursday before practice:
"Competitor," said Fewell. "We call him 'The Quiet Assassin', so he’s more quiet than I expected him to be, but he’s the assassin, he loves to compete."
If Thurmond is such a good cover guy, why doesn't Fewell play him on the outside?
"We feel like we can use him on the outside, but boy I like him in the slot," Fewell said. "I think he is a very strong corner. I think his reputation precedes him. He is a strong, good slot player. He can play corner, he can line up… he can actually… he can play that position too. I like him as a football player. Great competitor."
What makes Thurmond so good in the slot?
"Just knowledge, know how," said Fewell. "It’s the ‘it’ factor. People try to describe ‘it,’ he’s got ‘it.’ He knows how to play that position."
Fewell also admitted he has a better LB group than he's had in recent years, even with MLB Jon Beason missing all of training camp with a foot injury:
"I like the way this looks on paper because I think we’re stronger at linebacker than we’ve been in the past, especially if Jon Beason returns, but I still like the backers that we have. I like Jameel McClain, I like Jacquian Williams. Devon Kennard, he’s been a very pleasant surprise for us. I think some of our young players, the Spencer Adkins kid has performed well. We’ve strengthened ourselves there and that’s why I like them on paper."
Fewell couldn't leave the podium without addressing the JPP situation. DE Jason Pierre-Paul, after losing games to back and shoulder injuries the past two seasons, has been telling everyone that will listen that he's 100%. Fewell can only be hopeful that that is the truth.
"I’ve seen growth out of him. I’ve seen a much better attitude. I’ve seen the old JPP," said Fewell. "I think, and you can ask him, he didn’t really get to participate in camp last year. This year he’s participating in camp and if you notice before the practice begins, he’s out running routes, covering. That’s the old JPP. His attitude is good. His work ethic has been very good. He’ll continue to develop and I’m sure he’ll regain his form."