Friday, August 24, 2012

Markus Kuhn: "He looks like the real-life Thor"

ON THE MARKUS: Some Giants compare him to comic-book hero Thor, but German-born DT Markus Kuhn also reminds some of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator as he fights to make the team.


August 24, 2012

It was not exactly a shocker to hear “Born In The USA” blaring from the gigantic speakers last Saturday night at MetLife Stadium during a break in the Giants-Jets preseason game and, without really thinking, Rocky Bernard, who was sitting on the bench, began singing along to one of Bruce Springsteen’s most popular rock anthems.

Alongside Bernard in the cluster of defensive tackles, rookie Markus Kuhn listened to the lyrics of the chorus and couldn’t help but feel just a bit slighted.

“That’s just messed up, man,’’ Kuhn said to his humming-along teammate.

“He’s from Germany,’’ Bernard explained.

Yes he is. Kuhn was not born in the USA, but rather in Weinheim, Germany, although many of the Giants believe Kuhn hails from much, much farther away: Asgard, home of one particularly hunky, hammer-throwing, long-haired Norse God.

“He looks like the real life Thor,’’ Justin Tuck said.

And he sounds like a latter-day Arnold Schwarzenegger, which is why he has been referred to as “The Terminator,’’ and one day in training camp up in Albany, he couldn’t believe what mindlessly came out of his mouth when bussing his tray in the team cafeteria. As he left the table, he stated to teammates, “I’ll be back,’’ and it sounded, accent and all, just like the famous movie line.

“I didn’t even realize I said it and they all started cracking up laughing,’’ Kuhn said.

How he looks, what he says and how he says it are fun diversions, but the Giants need to know if the kid can play. Actually, he’s not a kid, but a 26-year old rookie who came to football late (age 15) and is one of only two German players ever to get selected in the NFL Draft (offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer was a 2009 pick of the Patriots).

The Giants face the Bears tonight in the third preseason game and coach Tom Coughlin said his starters will at least play until halftime. When the reserves take over, Kuhn again will get his chance to show he’s worth keeping around.

When training camp started, Kuhn, a seventh-round pick from North Carolina State, seemed destined to be practice-squad material, given he was so raw and the defensive tackle position was so loaded. Things have changed. Chris Canty remains out following knee surgery, Marvin Austin is sidelined with back issues and Shaun Rogers is dealing with a blood clot in his leg and hoping he can salvage his season. There’s light at the end of the tunnel for the likes of impressive first-year Dwayne Hendricks and former Broncos tackle Marcus Thomas. Kuhn also has a shot.

“I don’t look at this at all, my approach doesn’t change if everybody’s healthy or no one’s healthy,’’ Kuhn said. “I’m not working harder or less hard, I tried to fight for a spot before and I’m still trying to fight for a spot right now.’’

In his two games and in several practices Kuhn has managed to do something to get him noticed — the “flashes’’ coaches always want to see. Early in the third quarter against the Jets, in one of his first plays, Kuhn was able to penetrate and trip up Tim Tebow for a 1-yard loss. Back home, his buddies noticed.

“If I wasn’t thinking about it all the time if you watch ESPN you’re almost forced to think about him,’’ Kuhn said of Tebow. “I obviously know about him and he’s a good player. I mean, he’s a famous guy, he’s a famous athlete, not only in the U.S., so even my friends in Germany were like wow, making fun, going ‘You were able to touch Tim Tebow!’ Things like that. I like the effort he plays with so it was definitely good to get him.’’

No one has questioned Kuhn’s effort, and if the numbers don’t work for him, he’s virtually assured of sticking around on the practice squad.

“He’s just a funny guy, he’s a fun-loving guy, he’s a typical high-effort white guy, which our room always seems to have one,’’ Tuck said. “He’s a strong guy, a guy who seems to be getting the reads well. I’m interested to see how he’s gonna do in that final preseason game when he has to play a lot of snaps, and not just flashes.’’

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