The New York Giants are entering Year 3 of general manager Joe Schoen’s tenure with the team and many believe the roster he’s been building is about to yield some dividends.

One player in particular to keep an eye on is third-year outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux, who NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks has identified as a breakout candidate for the upcoming season.

After amassing 11.5 sacks in his second season, Thibodeaux could become the next elite pass rusher to flourish in the Big Apple. The 6-foot-5, 258-pounder thrives as a speed rusher off the edge — and now he’s in position to really wreak havoc, lining up across the formation from two-time Pro Bowler Brian Burns. New York’s blockbuster trade acquisition will command most of the attention as the team’s most established edge rusher, leading to more one-on-one opportunities for Thibodeaux. With second-team All-Pro DT Dexter Lawrence also wrecking shop inside, Thibodeaux could post monster numbers in Year 3.

Giants Wire recently covered the possible effects that the addition of Burns could have on Thibodeaux both as a complimentary player and as a friendly rival.

“The more rushers you can have, it helps all of them, no doubt,” Charlie Bullen, the Giants’ new outside linebackers coach, said in May during the team’s offseason program.

“Anytime an offense can key into one player, that challenges that particular player but also the scheme,” continued Bullen. “So now, having another proven rusher opposite Kayvon, someone has to get the attention. And Dex. There’s three bona fide, experienced guys up front, and the offense can only choose a certain amount. If they start altering their protection and keeping guys in to protect, then the routes get limited downfield.”

Burns and Kayvon have struck up both a friendship and a rivalry, quickly noting their common traits and their differences as they come from distinctly different places. Thibodeaux is from Southern California while Burns hails from Florida.

“He’s a Florida boy,” Thibodeaux said. “You talk about a little bit of city, a little bit of country. I’m from the West Coast, from L.A. You talk about the mix of the outdoors and the indoors, the big city and the wide-open country. It’s a good mix. We’ve been able to get together, show him some things, he’s shown me some things. Talk about culturally, music-wise. It’s been a good time so far.”

Burns — a two-time Pro Bowler with the Carolina Panthers — agrees. There’s a lot of synergy to be gained by having each other around.

“Right now, we’re just pretty much getting used to each other, bouncing a lot of ideas off of each other,” Burns said this spring. “We just spend a lot of time trying to develop that chemistry. Also, healthy competition. We almost compete in everything we do, on the field, off the field. Having somebody to push me and I’m able to push, that’s going to be a positive this year.”


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