Jason Pierre-Paul’s recent surgery and Justin Tuck’s string of injures over the past few seasons have all of a sudden made the depth at defensive end – normally a position of strength for the Giants – a bit lacking.
Even with question marks still at linebacker, Kiwanuka should factor into the Giants’ rotation at defensive end. He was drafted as a d-end out of Boston College and has experience as a successful pass rusher.
Reports indicate that JPP is expected to make at least a 90 percent recovery and still could be ready for the start of the season. But just because he’s ready to physically play doesn’t necessarily mean he will automatically regain his form.
The Giants will have some younger players like Adrian Tracy and recent draft pick Damontre Moore in the mix, but a proven commodity like Kiwi is a safer bet. However, Tracy and Moore will likely be called upon to contribute at some point during the upcoming season.
The Giants lacked their traditional pass rush last season, and that was a major factor in the defense struggling collectively. The team had a noticeably weak secondary, but part of the problem was that opposing quarterbacks had plenty of time for their receivers to get open down the field.
There’s been some shaking up at defensive tackle with the addition of Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, the drafting of Johnathan Hankins and the hopefully healthy return of Shaun Rogers. Linval Joseph and Marvin Austin can also be contributors along the defensive front.
For the line to be effective, all the working parts need to work in unison. That’s why having an experienced end like Kiwanuka could pay dividends.
In the end, JPP and Tuck are likely to play as much as they can whenever they can. But Big Blue will certainly need to have a back-up plan in case that doesn’t work out.
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.