EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' best defensive lineman is not here at training camp, and no one knows when Jason Pierre-Paul will (a) show up or (b) be in shape to play. So in the meantime, the Giants' coaches are doing a fair bit of shuffling with some of the lesser-known names on their defensive line. Here's what they (and we) have seen so far from a few of those.
DE Robert Ayers: Defensive line coach Robert Nunn said Ayers has made big strides this year "from a mental standpoint," picking up Steve Spagnuolo's defense and showing a bit of veteran leadership in the defensive line room. Ayers has been lining up mainly as a left defensive end, where the Giants really want a good run-stuffer, but he also showed an ability to move inside and rush the passer from a variety of spots last year before he got hurt. Ayers is a likely Week 1 starter.
DE Kerry Wynn: Undrafted out of Richmond last year, Wynn made the team as a surprise preseason star and ended playing five games in 2014. Giants coaches say Wynn looked like a different player when they put him in games than he ever did in practice -- higher energy, more intensity, more production. They believe they can use him in a variety of ways, too, and that he can be a pass-rush asset from a number of spots. "When the pads come on, he's a different player than when the pads are not on," Nunn said of Wynn.
DE Damontre Moore: Criticized by coaches throughout his first two years from failing to consistently grasp his responsibilities in practice, Moore has been mentioned more than once this camp by coaches as showing greater maturity. His speed and raw talent make him an asset rushing the passer, and if he shows better discipline in the run game, his role could expand.
DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa: Nunn said the Giants are trying to get Odighizuwa "in better condition" in terms of withstanding the rigors of an NFL practice and game situation. A 3-4 defensive end in college, Odighizuwa can help right away in the run game but told me recently he's got a lot of technique work to do in order to become a productive NFL pass-rusher.
DT Johnathan Hankins: Likely the best player on the line with Pierre-Paul still working his way back from his hand injuries, Hankins had 5.5 sacks last year from his interior spot and would love to rush the passer more. He knows his primary responsibility is stopping the run, but Hankins' coaches have said they want to look for ways to utilize his pass-rush ability more this year.
DT Markus Kuhn. Earning consistent praise from the staff this camp for improved footwork. The 2012 seventh-round pick could be a late bloomer. "Foot quickness, I think he’s continuously worked on that, and his agility inside and his balance," Nunn said. "He seems to be further along than he’s ever been with the foot speed and the quickness. Markus is another one, you give him something to work on, and he’ll work on it over and over. He’s a lot of fun to coach."