New York Giants' Mathias Kiwanuka Thrives in Return to Defensive End

The New York Giants drafted Mathias Kiwanuka out of Boston College as a defensive end, but would later convert him to linebacker to keep the best talent on the field. However, for Sunday night's beat down of the Green Bay Packers, Perry Fewell's game plan called for Kiwanuka to play on the line again, which resulted in his best game of the season. Kiwanuka finished the night with two sacks and six tackles, while keeping constant pressure on Aaron Rodgers.

"Yeah, I definitely love being down there," said Kiwanuka. "That's a big part of the reason why even when I was playing linebacker, I would still go down on most third-downs and be able to rush. That's what I do naturally.

"Whenever we can get that [pass-rusher] rotation, it kind of keeps everybody fresh and keeps that enthusiasm getting after the quarterback," he continued. "It's good, we'll see how it goes, but yeah, that was the game plan, that I was only going to be on the D-line for that week."

It appears this will only be a one week occurrence. Fewell intends to move Kiwanuka back to linebacker for Monday night's game versus the Redskins.

Meanwhile, the rotation of Kiwanuka, Tuck, Umenyiora, and Pierre-Paul proved extremely effective. They were able to hit Rodgers seven times, sacking him five times.

Additionally, the Giants were able to implement the three (and four) safety look with the return of Kenny Phillips, which seemed to confuse Rodgers, allowing the pass rushers more time to close the pocket.

"Honestly, I think that was just about heart and desire," Kiwanuka said of getting to Rodgers so many times. "We knew going into the game that was what we had to do.

"It helped that we had great coverage on the back end, too," he added. "[Michael] Boley and the rest of those linebackers were coming downhill, so I think everything just kind of played into itself."

Kiwanuka's versatility is a huge benefit for the Giants defense. During the week he has to prepare as if he is a defensive end and a linebacker, which means sitting in both meetings and participate in both positions' drills. Kiwanuka prefers to play defensive end, his natural position, but as he has done in the past, he will continue to do what the teams asks of him.

"If I'm out there helping the team, then I'm good in that spot," he said. "I said all along that defensive end is my natural position. That's where I feel most comfortable."

"I knew when I came back, I had a meeting with the GM and [Tom] Coughlin, and this is what I signed up for," Kiwanuka said. "There's going to be times when I'm used at linebacker and there will be times when they need me as a defensive lineman. I'm good as long as I feel prepared going into that game, I'll play whatever."

Kiwi goes under the radar as one of the key players on this Giants defense. Kiwanuka is an underrated player and what he brings to the table often goes over-looked.

Also…

Check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.