Mathias Kiwanuka was drafted to play defensive end for the New York Giants and that's exactly what he wants to do. In fact, fellow defensive lineman Justin Tuck said last week that Kiwi has his "heart set" on filling that role.
“I hope he’s a D-end. I think that’s the best position for him. I think that’s what he wants to play," Tuck said. “Obviously if you ask Mathias to play fullback he’ll run to do it. He’s that type of guy. He’s that type of player. He just wants to do what’s best for the team. But I know his heart is set on playing D-end and I think that’s what he’d be successful the most in."
With Osi Umenyiora now a member of the Atlanta Falcons, it opens up the opportunity for Kiwi to return to defensive end full-time — which is certainly something a lot of fans would like to see as well. Ultimately, however, it's not going to be his choice or the choice of defensive captain Justin Tuck. It will come down to the decision of Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell and will be determined based upon team need(s).
But, despite an obvious need for depth at linebacker, General Manager Jerry Reese feels, so long as the unit remains healthy throughout the season, Kiwanuka will, indeed, see increased snaps at defensive end this coming season.
"From my view I think he will probably play more on the defensive line more than he played at linebacker in the past — just from my view. But that is Coach Coughlin’s call. You guys can talk to him about that," Reese said last week.
Don't hold up your "victory" flags just yet, fans. Despite Reese's projection that Kiwi will play more snaps at defensive end this season than he has in the recent past, it doesn't mean he's going to make a transition back to that position full-time. In fact, Reese made it very clear that he will stay in the "joker" role, switching back-and-forth between defensive lineman and linebacker based on the situation.
"I see him as still kind of a 'Joker' type player for us," Reese.
In other words, not much is going to change for Kiwi here in 2013 save for a few additional snaps at defensive end. And with Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul both likely to receive full-time reps, and the team reportedly moving away from a constant DE rotation, it's safe to assume that most of Kiwanuka's time will be spent at the linebacker position — especially when you consider the overall lack of health many of the current unit has demonstrated over their respective careers.
There's no denying Kiwanuka is better suited to play defensive end, but the team needs him to continue his "joker" role for now, so that's exactly what he's going to do.
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