Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari doubtful for Giants Week 1

Head coach Brian Daboll wasn’t ready to sack the Giants’ top two edge rushers.

Rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari, who set a Giants rookie record with eight sacks last season, were listed as doubtful on the final injury report of the week as Daboll decided to put off a final decision on the duo’s availability Sunday against the Titans. It preserved a little bit of optimism despite all signs pointing to Thibodeaux’s NFL debut being delayed and Ojulari’s frustrating two-injury summer continuing.

“We’ll just try to take it right up to game time, as long as we can, to see who’s going to be active and who’s not going to be active,” Daboll said Friday afternoon. “So, that’ll be really the next 48 hours – let it go as long as we can let it go.”

Thibodeaux (MCL sprain) and Ojulari (calf) were limited participants in practice, working hand-to-hand combat with little lateral movement. The Giants will be back on the field Saturday for a closed-doors walk-through before heading to Nashville, Tenn.

“Just need to see them be able to do the things they need to do without the pads: on the movement skills, the holding the edge,” Daboll said before practice Friday. “If we have to work them out before the game, we’ll work them out before the game.”

Giants linebacker Azeez Ojulari set a franchise record last season with the most sacks, 8, as a rookie.
Giants linebacker Azeez Ojulari set a franchise record last season with the most sacks, 8, as a rookie.
Photo by Andy Lewis / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The final call will be a “collective” between Daboll and head athletic trainer Ronnie Barnes. If either or both are unavailable, the Giants are likely to elevate edge rusher Quincy Roche and safety Tony Jefferson from the practice squad to fill the gaps, including rookie safety Dane Belton’s (questionable, clavicle) likely absence.

“You’ve got to put the player’s health and safety first and foremost,” Daboll said.

Daboll was a defensive assistant for the Patriots during 2001, which was current Titans head coach Mike Vrabel’s first season as a Patriots linebacker. Daboll (and occasionally Vrabel as a two-way tight end) switched to the offensive side in 2002 and his first stint in New England lasted through 2006 – two years before Vrabel left.

What does Vrabel remember from two decades ago? Three young Patriots assistants – Daboll, Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels and Raiders senior defensive assistant Rob Ryan – playing three-man football before practice.

“It was cold, late in the season, and they would always do red zone one-on-ones on Friday,” Vrabel said. “We’d be stretching on one side of the field, and they’d be off in the red zone. Josh would be the quarterback and Rob and Daboll would take turns running routes against each other. Watching these two in parkas in about 30 degrees and Josh playing quarterback, it would make us laugh every Friday. I don’t think we’ll see that on Sunday. “

Kayvon Thibodeaux attained a nasty injury during the Giants' preseason.
Kayvon Thibodeaux attained a nasty injury during the Giants’ preseason.
Photo by Sarah Stier / Getty Images

TE Tanner Hudson, who joined the Giants on Aug. 25, grew up about 90 minutes from Nashville in Camden, Tenn., And spent his youth going to a handful of Titans games. His wife, mother, brother and sister will be in attendance Sunday, as will a number of hometown friends.

Hudson’s five career receptions are most among the Giants’ four tight ends, ahead of Chris Myarick (three) and rookies Daniel Bellinger and Austin Allen (practice squad).

“This is not just any tight end room,” Hudson said. “We have good players. We are a little bit younger probably than most, but we’re figuring everything out as a unit. “

Ben Bredeson and rookie Josh Ezeudu will continue competing to start at left guard through the Saturday walk-through.


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