While Osi Umenyiora has made it clear he wants a guarantee of playing time heading into the season, the implicit call-out in that statement is the guy who took over the job when Osi was no longer doing it down the stretch of 2009.
That would be Mathias Kiwanuka.
Kiwanuka said he isn’t bothered by Umenyiora’s demands. In fact, he essentially shares them (even if he does it without vocalizing).
“Every defensive lineman in here should have that mentality,” he said of the desire to be a starter. “We’re always here to compete. You have to know that, you have to understand that coming into a profession like this. We’ve been doing it since we were little. Everybody is constantly evaluated, as they say, and you can never really rest. I look forward to the competition and that’s obviously my goal too is to be the starter.”
Kiwanuka said he is working hard now to prove that he is ready to step into the role of every-down defensive end. He feels he took a step in that direction in the final couple of weeks last season when he took over for Umenyiora.
“I feel like I performed and did what was asked,” he said. “Obviously I feel like I’m ready to play a bigger role on this team and this defense. That’s what I have to be able to prove this offseason is that I’m ready to step up and take on this challenge.”