4:20 PM ET
Jordan Lannan ESPN Staff Writer
East Rutherford, NJ — of the New York Giants No. 1 overall pick Kevon Thibodeau said he feels “really confident” he’s ready to make his NFL debut against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, despite being limited in practice for the second day in a row. The rookie missed the opener because he sprained the right MCL in his second preseason game more than three weeks ago.
Coach Brian Dabore said Thibodeau attended team practice Wednesday. Thibodeau said he did more in Thursday’s practice. The No. 5 pick in this year’s draft worked with a coach and rode a stationary bike during most practices open to the media.
“Close,” Thibodeau said Thursday. “Like I said, try not to look too far – what’s today? It’s Thursday – and Friday, Saturday. I’m pretty confident this Sunday.”
Thibodeaux says he feels “much better” than before. He still has some hurdles to clear and label himself daily. He will see his progress over the next few days before making any final decisions.
Giants (1-0) win in Tennessee without two starting Chargers: Azeez Ojulari and Thibodeaux. Ojulari was also limited in Thursday’s practice because He’s trying to recover from a calf injury he injured in practice this summer.
Wide receiver Kadarius Toney also made an appearance on Thursday’s injury report. He was limited by a hamstring injury, an issue he also dealt with this summer.
The presence of Thibodeau and Ohurai will be a huge boost to Carolina’s offense, which has quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Christian McCaffrey ( Christian McCaffrey) and wide receivers DJ Moore and Robbie Anderson.
“Well, you’re talking about two first-round [-level talents], so that’s a huge bonus,” Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale talked about the prospect of their return. “But that game is going to start anyway.”
Thibodeau always has a big advantage in the opener. Exactly three weeks away from the injury, his return timeline is three to four weeks.
So from the beginning, week 2 or 3 seemed more likely for his return. It makes sense for the Giants to think long-term with their No. 1 pick.
“We’ve been making tremendous progress,” Thibodeau said. “Ultimately it will depend on how I feel on Friday and Saturday. But it’s going well and I’m optimistic about that.” Muro said if it was the Super Bowl, he might be in Tennessee. He was asked Thursday if he would have played if it had been the day.
“Well, the game is not today,” he said. “So we’re going to keep doing it every day. I was able to practice [Thursday], so I did get 100% better. I think that’s the way to go and keep getting better every day.”
Thibodeaux can only participate in the competition without restrictions. The Giants don’t want a compromised version of the explosive pass rusher.
Thibodeau has been wearing a brace on his right knee during practice, and he doesn’t find it too uncomfortable or restrictive.
“If I On the court, I’ll be 100 percent,” he said. “Now, I’d say it’s everyday…I’m very optimistic.”