Giants’ defensive captain says rest of league should be afraid

There are few greater honors than wearing the “C” on a New York Football Giants defense.

Especially a defense like this one, which has brought honor and pride back to a tradition built by the likes of Sam Huff and Andy Robustelli and Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson and Michael Strahan.

You ask defensive captain Jonathan Casillas if this Giants defense is feared, and he says: “I believe so, for sure. I think playoffs last year, I don’t think teams really wanted to see us. Green Bay, we went up there and laid an egg, I call it, they got the better of us.

“I know Dallas didn’t want to see us in the playoffs. … You think they want to see a team that beat them twice?”

Do you think they want to see you this year?

“Oh yeah,” Casillas said. “Of course they do. The opening week? We beat them twice last year. They’re licking their chops. They done ran 35 plays against us today. I’m telling ya. They better have us on their radar, circled. Twice.”

The Fear Factor starts up front with Jason Pierre-Paul, Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon.

“Our linebackers gotta really step up this year, play if not better but bigger than we’ve ever played since I’ve been here,” Casillas said. “Those guys are feared around the league, and we’re just trying to play up to their tempo.”

Casillas answers, “Damn right!” when asked if he expects double-digit sacks from JPP and Vernon.

“And O.V.’s healthy this year, he had a wrist he was dealing with last year, he was literally playing with one hand last year,” Casillas said. “So now he’s gonna have two hands the whole year. And JPP has one-and-a-half hands — he didn’t have one hand two years ago, now he has one-and-a-half. But he knows how to use it fully now, so he’s good. He’ll tell you about it, too, he can do pull-ups and all that.”

Casillas said he is high on Romeo Okwara as well.

“Don’t sleep on Romeo,” Casillas said. “There’s always three great pass rushers for the Giants — Justin Tuck, Michael Strahan and Osi [Umenyiora].”

Casillas said he expects Eli Apple to make a giant leap this season.

“I think he’s a great player, and I think he has to play great, and prove it this year,” Casillas said. “He’s learning from two of the best corners we got in the league. I’m looking forward to him really balling out this year. … I just like the way he plays the game. He’s not scared of anybody. He can cover anybody we have on our team —…

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