Giants Receive ‘Promising’ Injury Updates on Two Key Defenders

Leonard Williams Azeez Ojulari

Twitter Giants DL Leonard Williams and LB Azeez Ojulari showed promising signs on Thursday.

The New York Giants could welcome back some defensive reinforcements this week.

Outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari (calf) and interior defensive lineman Leonard Williams (knee) both have a chance to return to the lineup in Week 6 against the Baltimore Ravens. Dan Duggan of The Athletic described Ojulari’s participation in Thursday’s practice as a “promising sign.”

“Promising sign: OLB Azeez Ojulari (calf) participated in individual drills after being in the rehab group yesterday,” Duggan wrote on Twitter.

Here’s a clip of Ojulari working a drill during Thursday’s practice, via Paul Dottino of WFAN:

Meanwhile, Jordan Raanan of ESPN provided the following update on Williams.

“Leonard Williams (knee) looking like a guy who is going to play Sunday vs. the Ravens.” Raanan wrote on Twitter. “Has a brace on his right knee after missing the past 3 games.”

Williams, New York’s highest-paid player in terms of average annual salary ($21 million), was injured in Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers and has not seen the field since. Ojulari entered the season with an injury, returned for Weeks 3 and 4 and then missed last Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.

The defensive front is starting to look like the strongest positional group on the Giants roster, but the unit is incomplete without Williams and Ojulari in the lineup. With first-round rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux flashing some pass-rushing potential and Dexter Lawrence drawing praise from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as a “premier player,” this unit has a bright future when fully healthy.

Landon Collins Will Play Linebacker as ‘Primary Position’

Another likely addition to the Giants defense in Week 6 is veteran Landon Collins, who was brought back last week. Upon re-signing with the team, Collins was billed as a safety-linebacker hybrid. Now that he has taken the practice field, Jordan Raanan of ESPN reports that linebacker looks like the “primary position” for Collins.

“Landon Collins back in the No. 21 for the Giants working with the linebackers,” Raanan wrote on Twitter. “It appears that will be his primary position.”

Collins, a former second-round draft pick of the Giants who spent the past three seasons in Washington, has taken issue in the past with playing linebacker. Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, however, likes to use his safeties as linebackers. As a downhill, attacking box safety, Collins should make a smooth transition into this role in Martindale’s defense.

Collins, 28, has 676 career tackles (41 for losses) since entering the NFL in 2015.

Giants Defense Wants to Win For Wink Against Ravens

Wink Martindale is in the spotlight for a couple of reasons heading into Week 6. For one, he has the Giants defense ranked inside the NFL’s top 10 units in points allowed per game (18.6). Secondly, he’s about to go head-to-head with his former team: the Baltimore Ravens.

Martindale was a linebackers coach with the Ravens from 2012-17 and then was the team’s defensive coordinator from 2018-21. Giants outside linebacker Jihad Ward, who also played under Martindale in Baltimore, recently told the New York Post how badly New York’s defense wants to win for their coordinator this Sunday.

“It’d be dope, man, to be honest with you,” Ward said, per the New York Post. “One thing I want to do, I want to give it my all, and that’s just every game. But this game for Wink, we’re gonna give it for all for Wink. We’re gonna give it for all.”

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