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Super Bowl champ Carl Banks previews Giants’ 2023 season, names players who will be expected to step up

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The New York Giants are about to enter the 2023 regular season with high expectations after making the playoffs and advancing to the divisional round and acquiring Darren Waller to bolster the offense.

It’s not going to be an easy task.

New York will have to play the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, the always-tough Dallas Cowboys and a new-look Washington Commanders team with quarterback Sam Howell and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy leading the charge.

Giants great Carl Banks believes New York is a better team from 2022 but still has some things to prove.

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Darren Waller lines up

Darren Waller of the New York Giants during the preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium on Aug. 18, 2023, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

“That’s going to be an interesting one to read or to witness because they are a better football team. They are a faster football team,” Banks told Fox News Digital when asked what the Giants’ story will be in 2023. “Does that translate into more wins? The same amount of wins? We’ll see.

“But I think they are appreciably better across the board and the talent you can look at and be like, ‘Wow, how did they get to where they were last year with the talent just based on what you’re seeing today?’ It’s like night and day.”

The two-time Super Bowl champion linebacker pointed to their divisional opponents as the Giants’ biggest challenge facing them this season.

“Their biggest challenge now is to build on what they started,” he explained. “But they’re chasing the standard-bearer right now, which is the Philadelphia Eagles. They do have something they can look at and say – this is where we need to be. It’s not like they’re in a division where there’s not a universally superior team. 

“The Philadelphia Eagles are the team in the entire conference. When you’re looking at them twice a year, there are some goals. Instead of just being in a division where it’s mediocre and you say, ‘Well, we got to try to win the division and we got good enough to do that.’ They have to try to get to where the Eagles are and if they can do that, they have ascended not just within the NFC (East) division but within the NFC conference.”

NFL GREAT CARL BANKS TALKS STARTER PARTNERSHIP, RE-RELEASE OF BRONX BUBBLE JACKET

Kayvon Thibodeaux in training camp

Kayvon Thibodeaux of the New York Giants during training camp on Aug, 1, 2023, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The defense will be something to watch for the Giants behind another season of Wink Martindale as the coordinator. New York was 17th in points allowed and 25th in yards allowed. 

The Giants are returning Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams on the front line. Kayvon Thibodeaux is back for is sophomore season while Azeez Ojulari returns for his third. Adoree Jackson and Xavier McKinney are likely to be in the secondary along with rookies Tre Hawkins III and Deontae Banks. Not to mention, the Giants acquired Isaiah Simmons from the Arizona Cardinals.

Banks, who spoke to Fox News Digital on behalf of his partnership with Starter, named a few people who will have to take a leap in 2023.

“It’s a few names,” he told Fox News Digital. “Evan Neal, the right tackle. Kayvon Thibodeaux is a guy who has self-proclaimed that he needs to get better. And I thought he had a very impressive rookie year, but I think he’s a guy who is going to take the next step.

“But the guy that I expect and look forward to seeing is Azeez Ojulari. He’s their other edge rusher who is so gifted but he has just not been healthy. But his ratio of sack per game is way up there. I mean, he played seven, I think last year, he got five sacks. He’s a double-digit sack guy and I think if he’s healthy, he’s going to get 15 sacks.”

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Azeez Ojulari celebrates

Azeez Ojulari of the New York Giants in action against the Washington Commanders at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 4, 2022, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Giants’ 2023 run kicks off on Sept. 10 at home against the Dallas Cowboys.

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