D-line coach: Tuck has been 'outstanding'

November, 1, 2013
11/01/13
12:00
PM ET
TuckTim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsStats all? Justin Tuck's numbers are deceiving, said defensive line coach Robert Nunn.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The stats don't tell the story regarding Justin Tuck's play this season.

Just ask Giants defensive line coach Robert Nunn.

"Justin is off to an outstanding start. A very solid first half of the season. He's healthy. He's playing really well against the run," Nunn said Tuesday. "He's hit the quarterback nine times in two games, and he's only got one sack to show for it, but if he keeps doing what he's doing it's going to show up at the end of the year. It's going to show up in wins for us."

Since recording 11 1/2 sacks in 2010, his third double-digit-sack season in four years, the sacks have not been there for one of the Giants' captains. He had just five sacks in 2011, although he did play quite well in the postseason, and he had just four last season. Entering this season, the final year of his contract, there were plenty of questions about how much Tuck had left.

Nunn is adamant Tuck is playing better than the box score indicates. He has just 1 1/2 sacks, but the Giants as a whole have just 10. His 30 combined tackles puts him on pace for his most since 2010. He's been particularly effective against the run, with six stuffs already.

Nunn believes Tuck's improved play is a result of being healthy. Tuck has been bothered by various injuries the past few seasons, including a neck injury that sidelined him for four games in 2011.

"He has played much better, comparing him to last year. He’s played healthier," Nunn said. "I said that in the preseason -- I really thought if he could maintain staying healthy that he would really show up and he really has."

Tuck serves as the longest tenured Giant on the defensive line, and as he plays through his contract year, the Giants are integrating two rookies into the unit in second-round defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and third-round defensive end Damontre Moore.

Despite Moore receiving more playing time thus far, Hankins has done better with his chances. Hankins hasn't seen the field as much as Moore because the Giants are stocked at defensive tackle, which has been their strongest defensive unit through the first half.

"We got [Moore] in there a few plays the other day and he missed a couple opportunities. He gets in there, he has to do [it]," Nunn said. "Johnathan has done a good job. When he's gotten his chance he's taken advantage and done a good job for us. Damontre has to do the same thing."

Nunn said Moore's injuries have slowed him down; Moore injured his shoulder during the preseason and recently dealt with a hamstring issue.

"He's showing up on special teams like we thought he would and he loves to play this game and we got to get him more opportunities as the season goes [on]," Nunn said. "I think as the season unfolds you're going to see him show up more in the pass rush."

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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