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Kiwi to remain a linebacker

New York Giants no. 94 Mathias Kiwanuka during

New York Giants no. 94 Mathias Kiwanuka during the second day of mini camp. (June 17, 2009) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

One of the big things to watch last night when the full team was allowed to practice was the deployment of Mathias Kiwanuka. As you know, he was lining up at linebacker and not defensive end. Just the other day I asked Kiwi if he thought he'd play more defensive end if Osi Umenyiora was not available to the team, and he said that would seem to be the case.

Nope.

“As of now,” Tom Coughlin said, Kiwanuka will remain a linebacker in the base defense – on first and second downs – whether Umenyiora returns or not. The "as of now" is an out, but it sounds like Kiwanuka is a linebacker.

That really is a statement about the development of Jason Pierre-Paul, whom the Giants must feel is ready to be a starting defensive end for them. He’s looked good and confident in practice and the coaches say he is playing with less congestion between the ears if you catch my drift.

“There were times he did play slow,” defensive line coach Robert Nunn said of JPP’s rookie year. “I think he was just unsure and not confident … He’s off to a very good start. Then again, it’s hard to really know where you are at the defensive line until you get pads on and can start going against live competition and get into the preseason. We’ll see where we are once that comes.”

Still, Nunn said it’s hard to project just how good Pierre-Paul can be.

“There’s no question this kid is talented,” he said. “He’s a very unique player. I’ve been around the league 12 years and I have not coached one that he compares to. He’s kind of his own guy, how strong he is and how talented and how much range he has. We’ve got a long way to go to get the technique that he needs to have to reach that potential. I can’t say anything else about him. He’s always wanting to do what you ask him to. If he continues to do that, things are going to work out for him.”

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