Thibodeaux: Giants 'love being the underdogs'
Despite earning a postseason berth in his rookie season, New York Giants pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux is relishing the team's role as underdogs.
"I mean, it's been good for me. I like to lay low," Thibodeaux said Friday on "Good Morning Football," per NFL.com's Christian Gonzales. "I'm happy that people are counting us out cause that gives us more time to just work. We don't have to answer those questions. We don't have to worry about everybody looking at us. We can just keep our head down and grind.
"And I think, you know, we love being the underdogs, cause that always gives us that story, that momentum to really work and really go after what we want."
New York joined the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys as NFC East teams to make the playoffs last season, ending a postseason drought that dated back to 2016. The Eagles are the favorites to repeat as both divisional and conference champions in 2023, and the Cowboys have the second-highest odds to win the division.
While the Giants' offense was led by young stars Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, the defense showed marked improvement in its first season under defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. New York allowed 358.2 yards per game (eighth in the NFL) and 21.8 PPG last season.
Thibodeaux's rookie campaign got off to a rocky start. He suffered an MCL sprain during the preseason, which caused him to miss the first two contests of the regular season. Gradually adjusting to the pro game, the 2022 first-round pick recorded 49 tackles, six tackles for loss, four sacks, and 13 quarterback hits in 14 games.
Thibodeaux said Martindale told him ahead of his second year that his game could ascend to another level with hard work.
"I definitely do feel there's more pressure on. I don't think it's really going to affect me," he said. "But I do definitely know that it's a big year for me, and if I do what I have to to do, I'll make big gains."