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Linval Joseph article

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Linval Joseph article

Post  Big_Pete on Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:02 am

Giants DT Linval Joseph slimmer, ready for more responsibility
Published: Monday, August 22, 2011, 4:30 AM
Mike Garafolo/The Star-Ledger By Mike Garafolo/The Star-Ledger


Linval Joseph says his tray is a little lighter this year.

By that, it might seem he means hes carrying less food, and that would be accurate because the Giants defensive tackle, listed at 323 pounds, is trying to maintain a lower weight in the 315-pound range.

But what Joseph truly means is he no longer feels bogged down like he did as a rookie. With no more two-a-days in training camp, a better understanding of the playbook and more refined technique, Joseph feels faster, freer and ready to step into a bigger role.

Which is appropriate because, after Barry Cofield signed with the Redskins, Joseph became the presumed starter next to Chris Canty.

I knew when they let him go, I had to step up to the plate, Joseph said the other day. All the doors are open right now and I have to do the best I can do. ... I just know Im a step ahead. I have a year under my belt knowing all the plays and what we have to do and what I need to do. Its easier in a way.

Joseph is starting to make things look easier and has impressed head coach Tom Coughlin with his work in the preseason opener nine days ago at Carolina. He came off the ball well and got good extension on the linemen across from him. It translated into only one assisted tackle, but last years second-round pick looked much more explosive than he did as a rookie.

Monday night against the veteran interior of the Bears offensive line in a preseason game at New Meadowlands Stadium, Joseph will get a chance to further refine his technique.

And hed better do so quickly. Though the Giants have veteran tackles Rocky Bernard, Gabe Watson and Jimmy Kennedy on the roster alongside promising rookie Marvin Austin, Joseph is the biggest key as to whether the front four will survive without Cofield.

Linval has been impressive, Coughlin said. As the amount of playing time goes (up) and the level of competition gets better its going to be interesting to continue to watch him. Ive been pleased.

Asked specifically about Josephs coming off the ball quickly, Coughlin replied, Hes been a load. There were a few times last year where he was late (off the snap) but I dont see much of that.

Joseph played in only six games as a rookie and saw a chunk of his time in short-yardage situations. He was the equivalent to a hard-throwing reliever in baseball: one inning, mostly fastballs and just let it fly. Now, hes more like a starting pitcher making three turns through the lineup, so hes learning to mix in some off-speed pitches. He just didnt get the chance to throw them in against Carolina.

Its why he cautioned against looking to the stat sheet to assess his play.

Thats how you bait: You start off one way and the next time you think Im going to do that and then I do something else, Joseph said. But (against the Panthers) thats the only opportunity I had to give that person that move. Im working on one guy and trying to loosen him up and when I finally get him fitted, hes gone.

And at the same time you dont want to give all your tricks out in the preseason.

True, but in Josephs case, he must quickly figure out what kind of tricks he has.

I try to share little nuggets here and there, but a lot of stuff hes doing a great job of picking up on his own, Canty said. Hes very diligent in watching film, hes a freak in the weight room and hes over here all the time working out and conditioning, so he takes really good care of himself.

But as far as defensive linemen go, usually the light switch doesnt come on until their third year, around that time. To see that in him and its just his second year is impressive. Its been faster for him.

Heck, it has to be.

We dont have a choice, Canty said. But its good to see its happening with him. Hes going to be fine.

Mike Garafolo: mgarafolo@starledger.com
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