EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It seems that Mathias Kiwanuka, a first-round draft pick by the New York Giants in 2006, has the ability and attitude to play wherever coaches ask.
So, with starting defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul out for at least 12 weeks following back surgery on a herniated disc, Kiwanuka is ready to return to the position he was initially drafted to play. He has held down the strong side linebacker spot for most of his pro career.
"It's the best thing to help the team," Kiwanuka said of the decision to move him back to defensive end.
Kiwanuka also confirmed that the move was in the works even before the news broke about Pierre-Paul's surgery on Wednesday, and was one he embraced.
"It was a move that I was looking forward to," he said, adding that he and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell discussed the move at length during the offseason. "It's my natural position and the one I've played in college, so making the switch back shouldn't be too much of a transition."
Before Pierre-Paul's injury, Kiwanuka was potentially looking at filling the situational pass rusher role previously held by Osi Umenyiora, who departed this offseason to the Atlanta Falcons.
Now that he's looking at an even bigger role on defense until Pierre-Paul returns, Kiwanuka said the only change from his perspective would be the personnel groupings he'll face.
"I just think it changes the group you're going to go with, changes how the guys are going to go up against you, so it's an opportunity to improve and get better," he said. "You have to go out there and, number one, be 100 percent, and try to dominate the position."
According to the Giants medical staff, Pierre-Paul is looking at a 12-week recovery period, a time frame that head coach Tom Coughlin described as an "aggressive position."
"If anyone can do it, JPP can," Coughlin said.