New York Giants: Meet the Guys Who Will Replace Jason Pierre-Paul
Sep 18, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) celebrates a sack of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Get to know the three young defensive ends whom the New York Giants will be able to help ease the sting of losing defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
As Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys inches closer, so too does the realization that the New York Giants will not have defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul in the lineup when they go to battle.
While Pierre-Paul’s teammates are all sad to have learned that their teammate will miss the rest of the regular season as he recovers from surgery, they have also tried to keep things in perspective to avoid falling into that “Here we go again” funk that, in the past, might have consumed the locker room.
Defensive tackle Jay Bromley perhaps summed up the team’s mood the best.
“I didn’t feel like the moon burst or anything like that,” he said. “I just feel like now we know what [the injury] is and we know what we have to do.”
What they have to do is get solid performances from the three young defensive ends—Romeo Okwara, Kerry Wynn and Owa Odighizuwa—who have exactly seven career starts and two sacks (all by Wynn) among them—in these final four regular-season games.
In doing so, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo reminds everyone that it’s important to keep realistic expectations when it comes to these three youngsters who will be tasked with filling in for Pierre-Paul.
“You can’t replace [Pierre-Paul], but you just have to find other ways to make up for the production that he has given us,” Spagnuolo said.
Let’s get to know each of these three defensive ends and what they potentially bring to the table.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Weight: 270 lbs.
Experience: 2nd Year
Acquired: 2015 Draft, Round 3
The only draft pick among the trio, Odighizuwa is trying hard to break an unsightly streak. That streak being the Giants third-round draft picks failing to have an impact on the club since 2008, when receiver Mario Manningham blossomed into a steady contributor.
Unfortunately, Odighizuwa isn’t off to a good start, as injuries have plagued him in each of his first two seasons. As a rookie, he only played in four games before a hamstring injury sidelined him for the rest of the 2015 season. Because he was placed on short-term IR, Odighizuwa managed to get some valuable practice time toward the end of his rookie season, even though he never made it back to the field.
This season, he missed last week due to a sprained knee. Odighizuwa has been able to practice this week on a limited basis, but it remains to be seen if his knee issue affects his quick first step off the snap.
Odighizuwa has played in 15 games, 11 this season. He currently has five career tackles.
What They’ve Said
“We have a lot of faith in Owa. He is a high motor guy. At one time last year, we had him in what we call the joker, doing a bunch of different spots. We had other people to fill in after he got hurt and he never really got that spot back, but we have high hopes for Owa.” – Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Weight: 264 lbs.
Experience: 3rd Year
Acquired: Undrafted Free Agent, 2014
Wynn plays with a decent initial pursuit and bull rush. If he doesn’t get home, he’ll at least try to get his hands up in the passing lane. He has shown discipline when playing against the run, doing a nice job of not over-committing.
For his career, Wynn has appeared in 30 games with seven starts. He has 76 career tackles, two sacks, three passes defensed and one interception over the course of his career. He has played in 87 snaps this year, and has missed two games this season due to a concussion.
The Richmond product has seen limited action this season, though he’s appeared in every game he’s been healthy. That has resulted in him accruing six combined tackles, a half-sack, and a fumble recovery to his 2016 tally.
What They’ve Said
“Kerry Wynn is probably one of the best, after JPP, at stopping the run.” – Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Weight: 265 lbs.
College: Notre Dame
Acquired: Undrafted Free Agent, 2016
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Okwara made the 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie free agent. Primarily a special teams contributor, he had begun seeing a snap here and there in relief of Pierre-Paul and Vernon, playing on 181 defensive snaps.
Over the last three games, Okwara has actually seen his defensive snap increase even before having to step in for Pierre-Paul. Showing good hustle on every snap, Okwara has also received some pass rush snaps inside at defensive tackle, where he seems more effective in pushing the pocket.
Okwara has eight tackles this year, including one for a loss, along with one quarterback hit and one pass defensed.
What They’ve Said
“Romeo is a good player. I don’t know if you watched him in training camp, but he did a lot of good things, as well as in preseason, too. We watch him every day and I tell you what: I wouldn’t be worried at all if I had to line up next to him.” – Defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison