It’s good to be a New York Giants fan. Fresh off of their season-opening win over the Titans, rookie first-round pick Kayvon Thibodeaux expects to make his regular-season debut Sunday against the Panthers. Thibodeaux missed the opener after sustaining a sprained right MCL during the Giants’ second preseason game.
Thibodeaux was limited during Wednesday and Thursday’s practices. Giants coach Brian Daboll said that his rookie linebacker took part in team drills Wednesday and was a little more involved in practice on Thursday. Thibodeaux also did some extra cardio on his own.
“Getting close,” Thibodeaux said on Thursday, via ESPN. “Like I said, trying not to look too far — what is today? Today is Thursday — still have Friday, Saturday. I’m really confident in this Sunday.”
The fifth overall pick in the draft, Thibodeaux racked up 19 sacks and 35.5 tackles for loss in 31 games with the Ducks. The first player in a dozen years to lead Oregon in sacks and tackles for loss in back-to-back seasons, Thibodeaux was also the first Ducks defensive lineman to earn All-America honors since Colts Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner in 2015.
Assuming he plays on Sunday, Thibodeaux will look to help the Giants’ defense contain a Panthers offense that is led by former All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey. New York’s defense played well in Week 1, allowing just 19 first downs and 93 rushing yards on 26 carries in the 21-20 win.
“We’ve been making great gains,” Thibodeaux said. “Ultimately it will come to how I feel on Friday and Saturday. But everything is going well and I’m optimistic about it.”