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Giants LB Bobby Okereke: New addition Brian Burns is ‘a game changer’



Giants LB Bobby Okereke: New addition Brian Burns is ‘a game changer’

Prolific is an accurate description of Burns, who brings 46 career sacks tallied over five seasons in Carolina with him to the Big Apple. With two Pro Bowl bids to his name, Burns commands respect as an established edge rusher joining a defensive front that already features game-wrecking interior lineman Dexter Lawrence, veteran Jordan Phillips and rising youngster Kayvon Thibodeaux.

The Giants might not pack the strongest punch on the offensive side of the ball, but they’ll certainly bring the juice on the defensive side.

They might not be as aggressive in showing it as they were a year ago, though. Shane Bowen has replaced Don “Wink” Martindale as the Giants’ defensive coordinator, and Okereke has already noticed a change in approach.

“It’s almost about as 180 a flip as it can be,” Okereke explained. “Going from Wink (Martindale) — I loved that system, attacking, blitzing all the time — to Shane, very methodical, probably one of the most cerebral defensive coordinators I’ve ever been around. Just the way he sees the game, the way he’s gonna call it, the way he coaches it, the attention to detail. Yeah, I think we’re gonna dominate this year, and it’s gonna be led by him.”

Domination via brain power isn’t exactly a needle-moving concept, but as Okereke basks in the beauty of optimism season, he seems confident it will produce results. In order to deliver, though, the Giants will need more than good vibes. A team that appeared rudderless for much of 2023 will need direction from a captain.

“It might be me. I feel like I’m stepping into that role a little bit,” Okereke said when asked who might lead the Giants in 2024. “We’ve got great leaders on this team. Andrew Thomas, he’s a mountain of a man. He leads by example. Dexter Lawrence, I mean his play speaks for itself. And Graham Gano, one of the wisest guys, been here for a long time, had a lot of success in this league. That’s our leadership core. We have guys that are growing. We’re a young team, but we’ve got to lead from the front.”

Including a kicker as a candidate for team leader is admittedly strange, but the Giants have already proven they’re not abiding by conventional practices. On paper, they have enough talent to wreak some havoc on the defensive side, especially up front.

It will be up to Bowen, Okereke and the favorite new addition, Burns, to deliver.

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