Devon Kennard is a fourth-round draft pick who has been a starting linebacker for the Giants since basically the first day of training camp, has been the standout defensive performer through the first week, and seems to deliver at least one "oooh!" eliciting hit per practice.
But the rookie is smart enough to know that there have been plenty of guys who look like Pro Bowlers in July and August only to fizzle in September.
"It's definitely a blessing and it's something that I don't take for granted, but I don't feel like I've done anything yet," Kennard said before practice on Monday. "This is just going to be practice number six today and I have a long way to go and I still have a lot of things to fix and correct and mistakes to get better at. I feel like there is a long way for me to go to become that player that I want to be and the organization wants me to be."
He stood out early in camp, and once the pads came out, Kennard really took off. His hit on Bennett Jackson (a USC player drilling a Notre Dame product!) last Thursday was the hardest of the day. On Sunday, he had a strong collision with fullback Henry Hynoski. And on Monday he made the hardest hit in the 9-on-7 running drills.
"I feel like I'm a physical guy and I try to utilize that as much as I can," he said.
It's a little surprising that a rookie is having so much placed upon him, especially given Tom Coughlin's reticence to do that with young players. Not only is Kennard playing with the first unit regularly, he's also listed at the top of the team's unofficial depth chart that they distribute publicly.
"It was definitely an honor," Kennard said. "Seeing something like that is an honor, but it's really early on and how I look at it is that it doesn't mean much of anything yet. We haven't played in any kind of preseason game or anything like that. I still have a long way to go."