Wink Martindale Gives Powerful Statement on Giants’ First-Round Rookie

Wink Martindale

Getty Images Wink Martindale ahead of a 2022 preseason game.

New York Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale isn’t the type of coach to mince words. So when reporters on Thursday asked the first-year Giants coach about No. 5 overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux, he wasn’t afraid to speak on the defender’s talents.

“I always say, ‘We’re going to open up a can of whoop-ass.’ Well, he’s the can opener,” Martindale spoke on Thibodeaux to reporters Thursday, via’s Art Stapleton.

Thibodeaux missed the first two games of the season due to a sprained MCL and has recorded just one sack thus far. Yet, the former Oregon standout has steadily trended up in improvement.

Prior to the Week 10 matchup against the Houston Texans, Thibodeaux posted 16 pressures and 12 quarterback hurries in the previous five showings, per Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson. He has also forced a fumble this season.

The Draft Network’s Justin Melo believes it’s only a matter of time before Thibodeaux breaks out.

“Thibodeaux possessed the highest ceiling of any rookie EDGE in the 2022 NFL Draft class,” Melo wrote on November 11. “The Giants are beginning to realize his potential. A preseason injury prevented the ideal start from occurring, but Kayvon Thibodeaux is inching closer to meeting his pre-draft expectations.”

Lions Could’ve Drafted Thibodeaux

A day before the 2022 NFL draft, Thibodeaux told CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson on April 27 that six teams had communicated with him. The Giants were one of those six teams as well as the Detroit Lions, who ended up taking Aidan Hutchinson with the No. 2 overall pick.

Three picks later, Thibodeaux became a Giant.

Thibodeaux will be facing the Lions in Week 11. When asked about playing against a team that passed up on him, he says there’s no grudges.

“I think this was where I was supposed to be and God had this in store,” Thibodeaux said Thursday. “This is where I should be. I don’t really hold anything on anybody.”

Thibodeaux already went up against the Houston Texans, who talked with Thibodeaux and ended up selecting cornerback Derek Stingley with the No. 3 overall pick. He won’t have to face the New York Jets, who are getting more-than-solid returns from No. 4 overall pick cornerback Sauce Gardner.

Martindale Speaks on Defensive Duo

We weren’t lying when we said Martindale isn’t the type of coach to mince words. He spoke glowingly on the efforts from the defensive lineman duo of Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, saying that he’s “never seen a combo of tackles like these two.”

“It’s a really mature room and they take playing in this system very seriously,” Martindale said, via SNY. “Dex has played all over the place (and) people don’t even know it — just because he’s listed as a nose (tackle). There are some times when he’s playing MIKE linebacker on third down.”

“To how (Lawrence) studies, how smart he is, and Leo is the same way.”

Lawrence, a first-round pick in 2019, now has five sacks this season. In Week 10, he totaled five tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and five quarterback hits. He also caused an offensive holding penalty on a Texans touchdown, erasing six points. And one play in the fourth quarter, Lawrence put pressure on Texans quarterback Davis Mills, who would then throw an interception to safety Dane Belton.

Williams, meanwhile, posted nine tackles and a half-sack in Week 10, giving him 1.5 sacks over his last two games. He registered a season-high eight tackles in Week 8 as well. After a slow start combined with a knee injury that cost him three games, Williams is gaining momentum as a threat to opposing defenses.

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