At some point Kavon Thibodeaux will start counting his sacks. We all will, given the attention and expectations that undoubtedly will surround the first-round pick as he navigates his rookie season.
For now, though, Thibodeaux isn’t tallying sacks — even though in the first few days of training camp practices, the edge rusher has spent more time in the backfield than some of the third- and fourth-string running backs.
Two reasons for that lack of interest in the accounting department:
First, there aren’t any actual sacks to be had. Thibodeaux and other defenders aren’t supposed to go anywhere near the quarterbacks. It’s why there have been plenty of times when Thibodeaux has completed his move against his blockers, seen a clear path to the passer . . . and just stopped.
“You know they say bulls see red [and charge at it]?” he said. “It’s kind of like that inverted. When we see red [practice jerseys worn by quarterbacks], we kind of run away . . . I’d rather lose a rep than get yelled at by Dabes.”
Second, the Giants have not yet been practicing in pads. The workouts have focused more on hand placements and footwork techniques than the strength and tenacity required to bring down prey in the NFL.
One of those excuses is about to disappear.
The Giants will hold their first workout of the preseason in full equipment on Monday. That means a first opportunity for them to see what they have in a number of players, including Thibodeaux and their other first-round pick, right tackle Evan Neal.
For the first three months of their time with the Giants since they were selected, Thibodeaux and Neal have worked exclusively in loose jerseys and shorts. Now they are about to be fitted for the battles for which they were brought here to win.
“The evaluation process of the things they need to do physically, when they’re able to do that, really exert that a little bit more, I think we’re all waiting for that,” coach Brian Daboll said.
“For the whole front line, you really have to judge when the pads come on,” Thibodeaux said. “I’m very excited. There are a lot of things as a pass rusher, as a defensive guy, you aren’t able to do without pads. The offense has the baggy jerseys; you can just pull on them. Now it’ll be more of a fair game. I’ll be able to use all the moves I’ve been working on.”
Neal is looking forward to the experience, too.
“I’m extremely excited I get the chance to get better,” he said. “When you don’t have pads on, you get better from a sense in pass protection and stuff like that, but it’s not the same. We really can’t fit our combo blocks or really lean on guys in the run game. I’m definitely excited for that standpoint of it, for sure.”
There probably will be times — as there have been during the early practices — when Thibodeaux and Neal are lined up against each other. That’s a matchup that has been happening since they were in high school at the same time making the rounds through All-Star games and elite camps.
On Monday, they’ll clash — and, thanks to having the pads on, smash — for the first time at an NFL level. All eyes will be on them.
That, after all, is what they were brought here together as a kind of package to do: Protect the Giants’ quarterbacks and attack the opposing ones.
Thibodeaux said it was smart of first-time general manager Joe Schoen to focus on those two aspects.
“Football is a game of trenches,” he said. “Starting with the trenches is a great start from the men upstairs. They did it and I feel like as we continue to get older and mature, we’re going to continue to grow and jell together, and keep bringing both sides to the forefront.”
“You take two guys that early in the first round and you want to make sure you hit on them not just as players, which is important, but as people and the right people for the organization,” Daboll said. “So yeah, we’re counting on those guys.”
Not yet counting sacks, perhaps, but certainly counting on them.