Kiwanuka soaks up return to DE

November, 28, 2012
11/28/12
6:07
PM ET
Mathias Kiwanuka is coming off his best game of the season with two sacks and six tackles.

Playing on the defensive line again, Kiwanuka enjoyed Sunday night's 38-10 thrashing over the Packers.

"Yeah, I definitely love being down there," said Kiwanuka, a hybrid linebacker/defensive end. "That's a big part of the reason why even when I was playing linebacker, I would still go down on most third-downs and be able to rush. That's what I do naturally.

"Whenever we can get that [pass-rusher] rotation, it kind of keeps everybody fresh and keeps that enthusiasm getting after the quarterback," he continued. "It's good, we'll see how it goes, but yeah, that was the game plan, that I was only going to be on the D-line for that week."
[+] EnlargeKiwanuka
Al Bello/Getty ImagesKiwanuka thrived as a DE against the Packers.

Kiwanuka will do whatever Perry Fewell wants him to do on any given week. But defensive end is his natural and preferred position. He played 36 snaps on Sunday, four more than Justin Tuck. With Kiwanuka, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Tuck all rushing, Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times and hit seven times.

The pass rush worked great with the Giants' three-safety look, which was back with Kenny Phillips on the field.

"Honestly, I think that was just about heart and desire," Kiwanuka said of getting to Rodgers so many times. "We knew going into the game that was what we had to do.

"It helped that we had great coverage on the back end, too," he added. "[Michael] Boley and the rest of those linebackers were coming downhill, so I think everything just kind of played into itself."

Last week, Kiwanuka only had to spend time in one position meeting room -- the defensive line. Most weeks, he spends time moving between the defensive line and linebackers rooms. Kiwanuka understands his job is to be prepared to do both positions, whatever the game plan that week calls for.

"If I'm out there helping the team, then I'm good in that spot," he said. "I said all along that defensive end is my natural position. That's where I feel most comfortable."

"I knew when I came back, I had a meeting with the GM and [Tom] Coughlin, and this is what I signed up for," Kiwanuka said when he signed a three-year contract extension worth $21.75 million in April. "There's going to be times when I'm used at linebacker and there will be times when they need me as a defensive lineman. I'm good as long as I feel prepared going into that game, I'll play whatever."
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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