When it came to brushing up on the opposing quarterback for Monday’s game against the Browns, Giants defensive end Romeo Okwara did not have to do much research.
“A familiar face, yeah,” he said of Browns second-round pick DeShone Kizer, a teammate of Okwara’s at Notre Dame. “I’m looking forward to getting together. It should be a fun challenge.”
Okwara said he’s kept in touch with Kizer since he left Notre Dame and came to the Giants as a rookie last year. He even went out to dinner with the quarterback when Kizer visited New York City before the draft in April.
And yes, they discussed the possibility of the Giants selecting Kizer.
“It was always a possibility,” Okwara said.
The Giants wound up taking Davis Webb at quarterback in the third round. Kizer went to the Browns, a longtime black hole for quarterbacks.
In his preseason debut last week, though, Kizer seemed like he might be able to overcome that decades-long trend. He threw for 184 yards and a game-winning 45-yard touchdown to beat the Saints. He had a passer rating of 114.1.
“I saw some highlights,” Okwara said. “He had a pretty good game. Still has his arm.”
Kizer is still behind Brock Osweiler on the Browns’ depth chart, but could he be the answer to the team’s long-term quarterback issues?
“I’m sure,” Okwara said. “They drafted him for a reason.”
As for his own preseason, Okwara was less excited.
“Ehh,” he said when asked about how he thought he played in last week’s game against the Steelers. “I thought I did some good things but there are a lot of things I need to correct still. Working on those things this week. Being more stout on the run, some pass-rush things.”
The Giants coaches clearly want to see more, too. Okwara stepped into the starting job when Jason Pierre-Paul was injured in the final four weeks of the season last year.
“I talked with him the other day,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “I think he needs to jump it up a little bit. We need to see him do some of the things he did a year ago that we were all impressed with. Right now we’ve got confidence in him as our third defensive end.”
That confidence, though, clearly needs reinforcing. The Giants have other options at defensive end behind their two established starters this camp, including veteran Devin Taylor, Kerry Wynn and rookie Avery Moss.
“That’s good,” Okwara said. “That’s going to help us.”
Come cutdown day, though, it probably won’t be so good for one of those players.