INDIANAPOLIS -- The New York Giants are well aware that the big story of this Super Bowl week is the condition of Rob Gronkowski's sprained ankle. To a man, they are all saying they expect the New England Patriots' huge tight end to play Sunday night. They admit that he poses a significant enough challenge that their defensive game plan must fluctuate depending on whether he plays, but they also believe their personnel gives them a good chance against him.
I was speaking this morning with Giants linebackers coach Jim Herrmann about Mathias Kiwanuka and the transition Kiwanuka made in training camp from full-time defensive end to outside linebacker, and he said that having someone Kiwanuka's size at the linebacker position helps against these huge tight ends that are suddenly popping up all over the league. Kiwanuka's ability to bother the tight end at the line of scrimmage is a factor.
"Anytime you have someone who can reach over and tickle their nose, that helps," Herrmann said. "Kiwi's got those long arms."
Matt Williamson writes in this Insider "Scouts Chatter" piece that the Giants are equipped to handle Gronkowski and fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez because they can do so many things in coverage with their three safeties, linebacker Michael Boley and Kiwanuka, who Matt says "is adept at rerouting tight ends at the line of scrimmage."
What will be interesting to see, assuming Gronkowski does play, is how effective he'll be on a bad ankle. James Walker asked him this morning if he'd consider wearing a special, larger cleat for the game to accommodate possible in-game swelling, and it sounds like something the Patriots are considering.