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Friday, November 8, 2013
Hankins hankering for bigger role

By Matt Ehalt

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Through the first half of the season, Johnathan Hankins, the victim of a numbers crunch at defensive tackle, was more of a spectator than a factor for the Giants.

Not anymore.

With veteran Shaun Rogers heading to IR, the second-round pick is in line to see a big boost in his playing time during the second half of the season, beginning Sunday against the Raiders. Markus Kuhn, who was activated Thursday off the reserve/PUP list, should also see more playing time moving forward.

"I wouldn't say I'm excited because the guy went down and he's hurt, but the opportunity is there," Hankins said. "It's there for me to take and I'm going to take full advantage of it."

The Giants used a high pick on Hankins this spring, but there hasn't been much opportunity for him yet. The Giants loaded up at defensive tackle in the offseason, bringing in Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson to complement returning starter Linval Joseph and Rogers.

The defensive tackles have arguably been the team's best defensive performers this season, a big part of why the Giants enter Sunday's game ranked ninth in the league against the run. With that stout play in the middle, it hasn't been easy for the Giants to find snaps for the rookie.

In his limited playing time, though, Hankins has done well. Defensive line coach Robert Nunn said during the bye week that when Hankins has been on the field -- just 59 defensive snaps, according to footballoutsiders.com -- he's done a good job.

"It's been tough. I've been talking to coach and the guys -- it's not always going to be handed to you or given to you so you have to learn how to work for it," Hankins said. "I've been practicing my butt off every single week as if I'm going to go out there and play. So this week, if my name is called, which I think it may be, I'm going to go out there and give it my all."

Hankins would face off Sunday against his former teammate at Ohio State, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, and is looking forward to finally getting a chance to get after him.

"Pretty excited to go against him," Hankins said. "I never really got a chance to hit him, so if I get a chance, I'm going to definitely try to let him know I'm there."

Kuhn, a seventh-round pick in 2012, was moved to the active roster with Rogers on IR. Last season, Kuhn worked his way into the Giants' rotation at defensive tackle before he tore his ACL during a loss to the Bengals in November. Kuhn finished with 14 combined tackles in 10 games.

"I'm obviously really excited," Kuhn said. "I worked hard and to get back on the roster. Obviously it was my goal, and I'm glad it worked out like it did."