The New York Giants can expect to have outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari back in the lineup soon.
Ojulari, who opened training camp on the non-football injury (NFI) list with a hamstring injury, is expected to return to practice “within the next week,” according to a report from Dan Duggan of The Athletic. The Giants open up the preseason against the New England Patriots next Thursday, Aug. 11, at 7 p.m. ET. It’s unlikely Ojulari plays in that game, but it would be encouraging to have him back in the fold by then.
ALL the latest Giants news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on Giants newsletter here!
Ojulari, 22, projects to be a major part of what the Giants do on defense this season. He led the team with 8.0 sacks as a second-round rookie last season. Now paired with Kayvon Thibodeaux (the No. 5 overall pick in this year’s draft) and new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, the stage is set for Ojulari to make a gigantic leap in Year 2.
At the end of July, Giants head coach Brian Daboll hinted that Ojulari was nearing a return.
“He’s working through it,” Daboll said at a press conference on July 30 (via The Half/Twitter). “I’d say — I don’t want to give you a timetable. It’s day-by-day. He’s gotten better…”
When pushed to answer whether a return could be “weeks” away, Daboll shut down the line of questioning.
“I’m not there yet,” he said.
Ojulari’s injury update comes at a time when the Giants needed a bit of good news. The team lost a pair of offensive linemen to devastating injuries this week, as swing tackle Matt Gono suffered a career-ending neck injury and fifth-round rookie Marcus McKethan suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
Azeez Ojulari Has Pro Bowl Potential in 2022
Azeez Ojulari was a pleasant surprise for Giants fans last season, but in 2022 he has the potential to take the NFL by storm. Earlier this offseason, Nick Shook of NFL.com named him as the most likely Giants player to make his first Pro Bowl this season.
Ojulari has not explicitly set a Pro Bowl nod as a personal goal heading into his second NFL season, but he did say there’s “more to do” after his outstanding rookie campaign.
“There’s definitely more to do for sure,” Ojulari said back in May. “The  season didn’t go how we wanted it to go. It’s a team game, so you gotta come out there and try to get better every day.”
Ojulari was certainly putting that work in every day, as it’s part of the reason why he landed on the NFI list. He suffered his hamstring injury while training away from team facilities, making him ineligible for the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Here’s a clip of him working out in early July, via Alex Wilson of Empire Sports Media:
The Giants need Ojulari healthy and leaping into the laps of opposing quarterbacks during the regular season.
Watch All of Ojulari’s Rookie Year Sacks from 2021
To help get you hyped for Azeez Ojulari’s return to the practice field, here’s a highlight reel of his sacks from last season.
With a healthy Ojulari on one edge and Kayvon Thibodeaux on the other, the Giants should field their most ferocious pass-rush duo in quite some time.