Giants defenders Kayvon Thibodeaux, left, and Azeez Ojulari

Giants defenders Kayvon Thibodeaux, left, and Azeez Ojulari Credit: Brad Penner, Jim McIsaac

The Giants defense has been pretty good so far. It ranks 12th in the league in yardage allowed, ninth in scoring, and more important than any numbers it has closed out two games when the opposing team had the ball with a chance to tie or win in the final minutes.

Not bad.

“It’s gonna be a lot better,” safety Xavier McKinney said confidently.

The reason for his prediction is that the group has so far been playing without two of its top talents. Outside linebackers Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari have yet to see the field in the regular season, recovering from preseason injuries. As they inch closer to their returns — perhaps as soon as Monday night’s game against the Cowboys — the potential for the unit to improve upon what has already been a strong showing increases exponentially.

“Those are two playmakers we are missing right now,” McKinney said. “We have guys who have done a great job of being able to step in and execute. When they come back it’s just gonna get even better for us.”

It certainly should.

The one element that has been missing from the Giants’ defensive personality has been a consistent rush from the edge. They do have two of their three sacks from linebackers filling in for the ailing starters — rookie Tomon Fox had one against the Titans in the opener and Oshane Ximines one against the Panthers in Week 2 — but what they lack is the very thing Thibodeaux and Ojulari should provide: dynamism and steady production.

Their play should allow defensive coordinator Wink Martindale to get even more creative and aggressive with his coverage packages, which can lead to more turnovers. It should generate more opportunities for the middle of the defensive front to get to quarterbacks with offenses shifting protections to the outside.

It’ll make everyone better.

“Potentially getting these guys back with us is huge,” safety Julian Love said. “They’re just studs. It means a lot for what we do as a defense.”

Ojulari led the team with eight sacks as a rookie last season. He missed a good deal of training camp after hurting his hamstring just before reporting and then, just a few days after he was cleared to return from that injury, hurt his calf on Aug. 25. Thibodeaux sprained his MCL in a preseason game against the Bengals on Aug. 21.

They have both been limited through the first two weeks of regular-season practices. Expectations are high for them to ramp up their reps and the speed with which they play in workouts this week and possibly be unleashed in time for Monday’s game.

Unlike Ojulari with a year of experience, no one really knows what Thibodeaux can do. He was selected fifth overall in April’s draft with more ballyhoo than any Giants defensive pick since Jason Pierre-Paul, but even his teammates are curious about what he’ll provide.

“I’m excited to see what Thibodeaux brings to this team,” Love said.

If Thibodeaux is half the showman many believe him to be then maybe there isn’t a better time for him to finally show up than Monday. In prime time. Against the Cowboys. For the most anticipated Giants game in years.

Last week Thibodeaux was asked if he is getting antsy or disheartened watching the first games of his NFL career from the sideline.

“They say the second rat always gets the cheese,” he said.

He and the Giants have been biding their time waiting for him to return.

But there is plenty of cheese left for everyone.

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