- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Sorry I disappeared on you guys there for a couple of days. Couldn't be helped, I promise. But while I was not posting, I did spend the last two days out at New York Giants training camp gathering stuff for the Giants' "Camp Confidential" piece that will run next week. Talked to a lot of people. Learned a lot of interesting stuff.
For instance, while I was speaking to Giants defensive end Justin Tuck after practice Friday afternoon, I asked him about the chances that the Giants could do some changing up of looks in their front seven this year, maybe showing some 3-4 on occasion in addition to their regular 4-3 looks in an effort to throw off the fancy new read-option offenses of which they're seeing more.
"Ssssssshhhhh," Tuck said at first, and I took this as a "yes." So I asked if we might see some scenarios in which Tuck stands up and plays outside linebacker in a 3-4, and he smiled.
"Maybe," he said. "I don't know yet. I'm not the one calling the plays. But I'll say this: Believe me, Justin Tuck can stand up and play outside linebacker."
Does he like it?
"I like going forward," he said. "So if they stand me up at outside linebacker, I want to be going forward."
As opposed to dropping into pass coverage, which does not interest him.
I also spoke with Mathias Kiwanuka, who's moving back to full-time defensive end after playing one of the outside linebacker spots in the 4-3 the past two seasons. He was a bit more forthcoming.
"We're all switching up positions in terms of whether we're going to stand up or have our hands on the ground, and that's an effort to keep people on their toes," Kiwanuka said. "So we'll see how it goes. We have the personnel to do it, so why not? We have quality defensive tackles. We have large individuals who are strong, and we have pass-rushers at every level of our depth chart. So we have the people to do it."
The Tom Coughlin Giants in a 3-4? I guess I'll believe it when I see it. But I know they weren't happy with their inability to slow down the Redskins' offense last year. And Coughlin said at the owners' meetings in Phoenix in the spring that they were at work on new ways to try and slow down the new offenses that were making such a splash last year. A guy like Cullen Jenkins, brought over from the Eagles, has played defensive end on 4-3 and 3-4 lines during his career, as well as some defensive tackle and some outside linebacker. Kiwanuka's experience at linebacker helps his flexibility. Tuck has played different positions on the 4-3 line and clearly believes he can rush from a standing position as well.
A 3-4 look might help the Giants get a better handle on controlling the running lanes in the read option. More likely, the ability to change from a 4-3 look to a 3-4 look or vice-versa during the same series might just be enough to confuse the offense and swing the advantage back toward the defense. They might not ever run any 3-4 all year, but it might do them some good for teams to know they're thinking about it.