Kerry Wynn is having a very strong preseason. Through two games the defensive end has recorded nine tackles — five of them on special teams — plus a forced fumble and a sack. About the only person who doesn’t seem too excited about it is Wynn himself.
He’s seen this happen before.
“I’ve had a lot of good preseasons,” Wynn said with a bit of a sigh regarding his four previous summers with the Giants when he filled his stat sheet with numbers and did enough to make the team first as an undrafted rookie out of Richmond in 2014 and then eventually as a backup pass rusher. Although he has spent his Augusts at an All-Pro level, once the days started to get shorter and the games started to get more real, Wynn’s production — particularly on defense — would dwindle. In 49 career games he has registered just 3.0 sacks. Opportunities have been few in recent years with Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul handling most of the snaps.
“Hopefully,” he said, “this year’s different and I can finally get [the preseason stats] to transfer over to the season that counts. Hopefully I’ll keep doing well.”
There is every indication that they should this time. While Wynn’s past preseason numbers were sometimes padded by playing in the third and fourth quarters against guys who would be out of pro football in a matter of weeks, this year he’s doing it in the first half of games against potential NFL starters. On Friday night against the Lions he opened the game with a tackle on the kickoff and then had a sack, pushing his way through three blockers to reach Matthew Stafford on the third snap of the game.
After four seasons, Wynn seems to be finding his NFL footing. And it’s getting noticed.
“He’s pretty multiple,” Pat Shurmur said. “He covers kicks, he pass rushes on the interior of the defense, he can play the edge. I’ve been very pleased with what he’s done to this point. I’m looking forward to him having a really good year.”
Wynn may not be considered a starter on the defense, but Shurmur definitely sees his value.
“I wouldn’t consider him second tier,” he said. “I think he’s a front-liner. He’s a good football player. He’s a big man, he’s long, and he can run. There’s a place in the world for guys like that.”
This offseason, Wynn said he was hard-pressed to say exactly where that place would be. James Bettcher came in with a new defense and Wynn said he had no idea if or how he would be used. He’d been a traditional 4-3 defensive end in the past, but with the changes he didn’t know if he would slide to play more inside or be stretched out to become a linebacker.
“I knew that I’d play wherever they thought was best for me,” Wynn said. “I was mostly just outside in the past. It’s definitely a little different. But I enjoy it. I love it. It’s a fun defense . . . I’m getting moved around a lot and that’s giving me opportunities to make plays. When we get our one-on-ones, we need to take advantage.”
So far, Wynn has been. Now the key will be to continue that into September.