- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants defensive line coach Robert Nunn thinks Justin Tuck is primed for a Pro Bowl year.
“Justin has probably had his best offseason since I’ve been with him,” Nunn said Monday. “In the fourth year I’ve been with him, he’s probably in the best physical shape, seems to be in a great frame of mind. The injuries were a factor last year. I think if he can keep himself clean with injuries, I am totally confident that Justin will be a big contributor for us and will be a very effective defensive lineman.”
Tuck, 30, who is in the final year of his contract, had 11.5 sacks in 2010, but has just nine in the past two seasons combined.
“He wasn’t as bad as everyone thought he was (last season), but he wasn’t as good as he usually is so we’ve got to just keep building,” Nunn said. “I think he’s got to prove it when the pads come on but I think he’s prepared to have an outstanding season.”
Nunn is expecting big things out of Mathias Kiwanuka, too.
“The OTA work Kiwi had was outstanding, he’s off to a great start these first few days of practice,” Nunn said. “We need some toughness in there. ... He’s a tough person naturally and I’m excited about it. He’s where he needs to be before we get in pads so we’ll see once the pads come on where we go.”
Nunn said the D-line has to tackle better. The Giants finished 25th in run defense last season.
“Missed tackles is one thing we looked at,” he said. “We can’t just talk, we’ve got to go out there and, when pads come on, when we get out here in preseason games, that’s where we’ve got to make our improvements.”
Nunn doesn’t have any expectations as to whether Jason Pierre-Paul (PUP, back surgery) will be ready for the season opener.
“He’s where he needs to be from a mental standpoint, he’s in every meeting, he’s at practice when they allow him to come, I know they don’t want him standing which, I’m no doctor but that would be understandable,” Nunn said.
Nunn also spoke highly of Marvin Austin.
“He’s been healthy for the first time,” Nunn said. “He’s never been able to go through a true offseason because of different ailments that he’s had. He’s where he needs to be right now, he just can’t disappear when the pads come on.”
Nunn said he’s been surprised by rookie Jonathan Hankins, who is currently working with the second team.
“He’s worked, he’s trimmed up, he’s gotten stronger, if he continues to do that I think he’s another young player that’s going to contribute to us,” Nunn said. “Now, I haven’t seen him with his shoulder pads on or anything like that, so it’s hard to sit up here and talk about defensive tackles when you’re out there in their underwear. When you get the pads on, you’ve got to show up.”