New York Giants’ Kayvon Thibodeaux ‘really confident’ to make NFL debut Sunday – ESPN

New York Giants' Kayvon Thibodeaux 'really confident' to make NFL debut Sunday - ESPN

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — New York Giants top pick Kayvon Thibodeaux says he feels “really confident” to be ready to make his NFL debut Sunday against the Carolina Panthers despite being limited in practice for the second straight day. The rookie missed the opener because of a sprained right MCL he suffered in the second preseason game three weeks ago.

Coach Brian Daboll said Thibodeaux participated in team drills Wednesday. Thibodeaux said he did a little more at Thursday’s practice. The No. 5 pick in this year’s draft worked on the sideline with a trainer and rode the stationary bike during most of the period of practice open to the media.

“Close,” Thibodeaux said Thursday. “Like I said, trying not to look too far — what’s today? Today’s Thursday — still got Friday, Saturday. I’m really hoping for this Sunday.”

Thibodeaux said he’s doing “a lot better” than before. He still has a few hurdles to clear and tagged himself every day. He will see how he progresses over the next few days before any final decision is made.

The Giants (1-0) won in Tennessee without both starting edge rushers: Azeez Ojulari and Thibodeaux. Ojulari was also limited at Thursday’s practice as he tries to work his way back from a calf injury sustained in practice this summer.

Wide receiver Kadarius Toney also appeared on the injury report Thursday. He was limited with a hamstring injury, a problem he also dealt with this summer.

The presence of Thibodeaux and Ojulari would be a big boost against a Carolina offense that has a quarterback. Baker Mayfieldrunning back Christian McCaffreyand wide receivers DJ Moore and Robbie Anderson.

“Well, you’re talking about two first rounders[-level talented]so it’s a huge benefit,” Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said of the prospects of them coming back. “But no matter what, that game is going to be kicked.”

Thibodeaux was always a long shot to play in the opener. It was exactly three weeks from the injury, and he was given a timeline of three to four weeks for his return.

So right from the start, Week 2 or 3 seemed more likely for his return. It makes sense for the Giants to think long term with their top draft pick.

“We made big gains,” Thibodeaux said. “Ultimately it will come down to how I feel on Friday and Saturday. But everything is going well and I’m optimistic about that.”

Thibodeaux said in the locker room after Sunday’s win at Tennessee that he probably would have played if it had been the Super Bowl. He was asked Thursday if he would have played if the game had been that day.

“Well, the game is not today,” he said. “So we’re just going to keep taking it day by day. I’ve been able to practice [Thursday], so I improved 100%. I think that’s the way to go, keep getting better every day.”

The plan is for Thibodeaux to play only if it is without restrictions. The Giants don’t want a compromised version of the explosive pass rusher.

Thibodeaux wore a brace on his right knee at practice, which he didn’t find too uncomfortable or restrictive.

“If I’m on the field, I’ll be 100%,” he said. “Right now, I’d say it’s day-to-day … I’m very optimistic.”

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