Mathias Kiwanuka Embraces Dual Role on Giants Defense
When he was selected in the first round of the 2006 draft, Mathias Kiwanuka probably never imagined that he would ever become one of those “slash” type of players.
Yet that’s the position he finds himself in today as the versatile Kiwanuka lines up as both the strong side linebacker and as a defensive end, the latter of which he played exclusively in last week’s dominating performance over the Packers.
“Yeah, I definitely love being down there. 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.”
Kiwanuka, who last year signed a contract extension, could have tested the free agency market if he wanted to, searching for a team that would have used him extensively as a defensive end. But he said he met with the Giants brass who sold him ion the idea of continuing to put his versatility to good use before he agreed to his contract extension.
“I had a meeting with the GM (Jerry Reese) and (head coach Tom) Coughlin, and this is what I signed up for,” he 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.”
While Kiwanuka admitted that it’s easier for him to prepare if he knows in advance that he’ll be at one position throughout the game, he said his preparation is the key to overcoming any challenge thrown his way.
“It’s different, because it’s easier to prepare for one spot. When I have to go back and forth, there’s just a lot more preparation that goes into it, but I seem to always be able to get it done even though you don’t think there’s enough hours in the day,” he said.
“I want to be able to be on the field, be prepared, and be effective. That’s my main thing. If I’m out there helping the team, then I’m good in that spot. I said all along that defensive end is my natural position. That’s where I feel most comfortable, but when we get all four pass-rushers out there on the field and we can go up and down the line and mix and match, that creates favorable matchups, so I have no problem with that either.”