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Antonio Pierce believes Mathias Kiwanuka can be a vocal leader for the Giants


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Antonio Pierce believes Antrel Rolle is the Giants’ best option for a vocal leader. But he also has another candidate in mind should that budding leader decide to come out of his shell at some point.


Mathias Kiwanuka.


“He’s not a vocal guy, but when that guy talks, people listen,” the former Giants linebacker and current ESPN analyst said by phone the other day. “That was the one guy from years past I’ve said he’s got it. Regardless of what anybody else wants to say about who should be the leader, he has all the qualities.


“It’s strong what he says, and it’s genuine. And he’s a guy you can say, ‘Look what he does for the team.’”


Kiwanuka has done plenty for the team since being plugged in as the fourth defensive end behind three darn good ones in 2006. One year later, he moved to linebacker. Then, he went back to defensive end. And now, he’s moonlighting as a linebacker once again.


The closest Kiwanuka has come to complaining publicly is when he’s told reporters it’s not an ideal situation but that he’ll do it for the betterment of the team. Pierce knows Kiwanuka’s feelings on the matter are much stronger. But even behind closed doors, it’s all about the team.


“When that organization has asked him to do anything and everything, he’s done it,” Pierce said. “‘Play linebacker.’ ‘Okay.’ He did not want to do it; a hundred percent, he did not want to do it. Hated it. But he did it because it was best for the team.


"‘Play D-tackle.’ ‘Man, I want to play D-end on third down. But okay, I’ll play D-tackle.’ That’s by example. And he’s not a guy who’s going to be, ‘Look at me, look at what I did for the team.’ He’s showing it through his work. The first game he proved what he’s worth to that team. He’s the wild card on that defense to me.”


Pierce believes if Kiwanuka stays with the Giants beyond this season (he’ll likely be an unrestricted free agent if there’s a new CBA), there will moments he’ll surprise teammates by speaking and acting more forcefully. Those will be the moments, he thinks, when Kiwanuka will establish himself as more of a vocal leader.


After all, Pierce saw it from Eli Manning when he shoved Ahmad Bradshaw in the back after a missed blitz pickup last season in the blowout loss to the Saints.


“When Eli got after Ahmad, that shocked me,” Pierce said. “When he got after Tiki (Barber after the former running back criticized him in 2007), that shocked me. People respond to him a lot better.”


Pierce is suggesting a little more of that kind of fire from whichever leaders step up for the Giants. He believes sometimes a little internal agitation – such as what Rolle stirred up last week – is good for a team’s fire.


Pierce says he would intentionally stir up things in the locker room between himself and Tom Coughlin to crate that kind of agitation. During Super Bowl week in Phoenix, he told me a story about the team all chanting in unison a profane greeting for Coughlin on Christmas Day, when all the players were upset they had to come in for practice leading up to the Week 17 game against the Patriots.


“It said, ‘Let’s knock this four or five hours out and go back home,’” Pierce recalled. “It broke the whole mood up. Same thing when things were going on with Plax. We chanted something at the end of the team meeting. It was like, ‘Forget about that, this is what we have to do.’”


Coughlin might not have understood moments like that, and he certainly didn’t appreciate the profanity, but Pierce said the coach knew what he was trying to do.


“It made the other 52 guys around me go a little harder in practice, it made the coaches’ energy pick up,” Pierce said. “(Michael) Strahan used to do it as well. Shaun O’Hara did it.


“My whole game plan for our defense and for us was to make us so agitated all week that when we went on that field we showed it. It doesn’t start on Sunday. You don’t get motivated on Sunday."



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Yeah he's having himself a contract year and I can guarantee he will be getting that money elsewhere. He's aiming for what Jared Allen got out of the Vikings, could get it too at this pace.


Kiwanuka deserves it with the way the Giants fucked with his career. It's great that he filled in where needed but constantly moving around doesn't help you become extremely skilled at your position. Reese needs to eventually realise you can have too many DLinemen.

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