The New York Giants' defense is built around, and justifiably noted for, its plethora of pass-rushing defensive ends. The defensive tackles get much less attention, maybe no attention at all, but their play is important to the defense.
As we continue our position-by-position previews in advance of training camp, which opens with the first practice at UAlbany on July 27, let's look at those defensive tackles.
Starters: Chris Canty, Linval Joseph
Likely Reserves: Rocky Bernard, Marvin Austin
Fighting For Roster Spots: Shaun Rogers, Markus Kuhn, Martin Parker, Dwayne Hendricks
Canty, entering his eighth season, has become a mainstay of the Giants defense after coming to the team from the Dallas Cowboys in 2009. He had 47 tackles and four sacks last season. Pro Football Focus gave Canty a +5.7 rating. Canty had offseason knee surgery but has said he expects to be fine for training camp.
Joseph enters his third season coming off a solid first season as a starter and full-time member of the defensive tackle rotation. The 6-foot-4, 32-pound Joseph had 49 tackles and two sacks while proving to be an effective run-stopper in the middle of the Giants' defense.
Bernard, entering his 11th season, played well as a reserve for the Giants last season.He had 30 tackles and a forced fumble and re-signed with the Giants as a free agent in the offseason.
Austin was a second-round choice out of North Carolina a season ago. He spent last season on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle and has not played football in two seasons after a suspension cost him his senior year with the Tar Heels. The Giants know he has talent, but there is a question about what he can do after two years away from the game.
Rogers was signed in the offseason, but the massive 6-4, 350-pound 12-year veteran has had an elbow injury that prevented him from participating in mini-camp and there are questions about whether or not he can make the team.
Kuhn, out of North Carolina State, was drafted in the seventh round. The Giants have yet to see Kuhn get on the field, however, as work permit issues have prevented the German-born Kuhn from practicing.
This group should be fine. There are quality veteran players and a decent amount of depth. It could be dominant if Joseph continues to develop and if Austin can be a force despite the two-year layoff. With all of the offseason work he missed, and the quality veterans in front of him, Kuhn might have a difficult time earning a spot on the roster.