Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale speaks during practice at the...

Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale speaks during practice at the team's training facility in East Rutherford, N.J., on Aug. 15. Credit: Ed Murray/Ed Murray

There is no doubting that Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is serious and passionate about his defense. 

For Martindale, building a defense, or fine-tuning one, is all about adjustments. 

And as Giants training camp nears its end, Martindale has found plenty of positives. 

The defensive coordinator clearly has reached a comfort zone with inside linebacker Bobby Okereke, a former Colt who signed in free agency, in the middle of the defense. 

Martindale has said in the past that if you have a slow Mike (middle linebacker) then you have a slow defense. 

With Okereke in the fold, he has switched up the wording, even if the effect is the same. 

“I’ve always said this, philosophically,” Martindale said Wednesday, “if you have a fast Mike then you have a fast defense, and he’s a really fast Mike.” 

Martindale liked what he saw from Okereke against the Panthers in Friday night’s preseason game. 

“I thought he played really well," Martindale said. “Yeah, I thought he played really well. It was fun to watch.” 

Martindale also puts Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the “fun to watch” category.  

Rodgers is scheduled to play in Saturday night’s game, pitting the Giants against the Jets at MetLife Stadium in the third and final preseason tuneup for both teams. 

It could make sense for Giants rookie cornerbacks Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins III – both of whom are expected to start the season opener against Dallas -- to be on the field while Rodgers is also on the field. 

For two youngsters, that kind of experience, even if it’s just a handful of snaps, would seem to be valuable. 

“If I was a rookie, I would be jacked to go against Aaron Rodgers because he’s one of the best of the best,” Martindale said. 

That task may not be an easy one, but in preseason, that is the point. 

At practice, Martindale said, he has seen the two rookie cornerbacks “fail some.” 

“And I loved how they responded to that,” Martindale said. “You don’t go into it looking that way, but I think that’s one of the things that I told you before that I loved about Tre. He’s got a short memory. And [Banks] is just one of those guys that wants to keep getting better every day. They both are and it’s fun to watch.” 

As the rookie cornerbacks grow into their roles, they may find themselves mirroring the positions pass rushers Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari do these days. 

Thibodeaux is in his second season, Ojulari is in his third. 

“We’re competitive players,” Thibodeaux said. “It’s just a consistent test. We’re both competitive players so we’re just trying to be the best we can and then push each other, right? We’re both trying to get the sack and if we’re meeting back there, whether it’s getting a punch out on the ball or running to the ball down the field, we’re always trying to make each other better.” 

They are critical of themselves and each other. 

“Definitely,” Thibodeaux said. “I think every time you look back at a play, you feel like you could have (done) a little bit more. Last year's film kind of disgusts me a little bit when I look at myself. I get a little cringe feeling. But it definitely is, like I said, a platform to continue to grow.” 

Why does he cringe? 

“Anytime you look at your younger self, you always see how you've evolved and matured,” Thibodeaux said. “So, now it's me understanding who I was and who I am now and who I'm consistently growing to be."

That's the name of the game in training camp. Even with the regular season closing in. 

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