Mathias Kiwanuka is not looking to replace Jason Pierre-Paul as he steps up and into the starting role vacated by the All-Pro pass rusher. Kiwanuka is looking forward to reminding everyone what he can do while Pierre-Paul is recovering from back surgery, especially now that the former is once again a full-time defensive end with the Giants. "There’s no doubt in my mind," Kiwanuka said, responding to a question about his confidence in a return to the position rather than bouncing between linebacker and the defensive line. "Do I finally feel back home? I feel home anywhere I go as long as I’m out there on the field, to be honest with you. Being able to just have your hand in the ground and not having to worry about going from one position to another makes it more comfortable when you’re out there, I can’t lie about that." Of those the Giants will need to produce with Pierre-Paul on the shelf until late August at the earliest, Kiwanuka’s presence up front could potentially result in the greatest leap in performance for a defense looking to rebound from one of the worst statistically in franchise history. Coach Tom Coughlin provided some pause Thursday to the anticipation of having Pierre-Paul back in pads against the Cowboys in Week 1, saying: "That is an aggressive position to take. If anybody can do it, it is him, but I would like to wait and see, and again, listen to what the professionals are telling him." Defensive line coach Robert Nunn has twice spoken to Pierre-Paul since he underwent surgery Tuesday. While Pierre-Paul is upbeat, Nunn said, they’ve also discussed the prudence of patience on the road back to the football field. "That’s the first thing I’ve talked to him about in both conversations I’ve had with him," Nunn said. "Look, this is no place to be He-Man. You’ve gotta do exactly what they tell you to do and let them take it over from here until they start increasing your work. … Hey, you do exactly what they tell you to do and that’s going to get you back as quick as you can." Pierre-Paul will remain in California, where the surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Watkins, before returning to begin his rehab at the team’s facility. Going forward, Kiwanuka, Adrian Tracy and third-round draft choice Damontre Moore will get reps at right end, while Justin Tuck mans the left side. "I think the longer you stay around, eventually they’re gonna call you a leader around here, you know?" said Kiwanuka, who has 30 career sacks. He has not exclusively played end in three seasons. "I think we got younger guys playing behind you, that’s what makes you have to step up because there’s just things they haven’t seen yet. They have to understand summer’s good and fun and camp is good and fun. But once the games start counting we’re gonna have to step it up a lot because we’re not gonna repeat what we did last year." Not only did Moore receive praise from Coughlin and Nunn, but another Giant pass rushing icon.
Giants' Mathias Kiwanuka knows end game
North Jersey | Jun 7