Bobby Okereke sees a Giants defense that’s ‘just going to take over’

Giants linebacker Bobby Okereke, a free-agent addition before the 2023 season, tackles some Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.

Q: Describe the challenge of now going against Saquon Barkley twice a year?

A: It’s going to be very challenging. I saw it on the practice field every day. He’s a very good route-runner, he’s a very patient runner, he’s physical, he’s a big back, strong legs. He’s a pretty total package back, so it’ll be a great challenge for us.

Q: Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said he told a heckling Giants fan, “We got your best player.”

A: I still see Dexter [Lawrence] and A.T. [Andrew Thomas] on the field, so I think we’re good (laugh).

Q: Devin Singletary is Saquon’s replacement.

A: Very veteran presence. He’s a pro’s pro. He knows how to practice hard. He’s a good running back, physical, patient, good vision. He’s gonna be a great addition for us.

Q: What’s it like standing behind Sexy Dexy on gameday?

A: It’s great. It makes my job A lot easier. He takes up two, three blocks at a time, and allows me to just go run and hit.

Bobby Okereke speaks to the media during camp at the Quest Diagnostics Center Thursday, June 6, 2024. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

Q: I know you were upset when Wink Martindale left. Describe new defensive coordinator Shane Bowen.

A: Yeah, Wink was my guy, I loved him. But Shane is an incredible defensive coordinator. He’s very smart, he has a very bright football mind, and I’m glad he’s my defensive coordinator.

Q: What changes as far as defensive philosophy?

A: I think we’re going to have a lot more rules, a lot more process of decision-making that’s going to allow us to play fast.

Q: What can Brian Burns mean for this defense?

A: He could be a game-changer. He’s an electric athlete, fast, physical, silky when he pass rushes. He can take over games.

Q: How would you describe Kayvon’s Thibodeaux’s style?

A: Kayvon’s dominant, Kayvon’s physically dominant. He’s strong as an ox, and he’s very technically sound.

Q: Sounds like it’s going to be …

A: Thunder and Lightning (laugh).

Q: What is Dex?

A: Dex is “The Hammer” (laugh).

Q: What do you think the on-field personality of this defense can be or will be?

A: Imposing. Imposing of our will. Imposing of our physical dominance. Yeah we’re just going to take over.

Q: Can this be a top-five defense?

A: Easily.

Q: Thoughts on first-round draft pick Malik Nabers?

A: I love him. He has elite body control. Great ball-tracking skills. He’s a guy who’s made for the bright lights.

Q: How much better can Nabers make Daniel Jones?

A: They talk about a thing called youthful exuberance, and I think that’s what Nabers has. He has energy, he has confidence, I think that’s going to inspire Daniel and everybody on offense.

Q: What is your level of confidence in Jones?

A: Very high.

Q: You weren’t here when he won a playoff game.

A: I’ve seen the competitor he is for about a year-and-a-half now. Obviously I played him [with the Colts] in 2022. … Me and Daniel had our couple collisions, obviously I got to see the competitor he is. But getting to know him, he’s a great guy. He’s a very down-to-earth guy, he’s close with the offensive guys, and he’s a good leader.

Q: What do you remember about those collisions you had with him?

A: I got flagged for a personal foul on one of them. I almost took off his head. And the other one he scored a touchdown, so it was good back and forth.

Q: Describe your linebacking partner Micah McFadden.

A: I love him. I think he’s blossoming into a very talented player in this league.

Q: Tyler Nubin?

A: He’s got great energy and great poise. He communicates a lot which is very important for us at the back end, and I think he’s going to help us a lot this year.

Q: Deonte Banks?

A: He could be one of the best corners in this league. He’s got all the physical tools, he’s got the mentality, and I’m just excited for him to keep growing.

Q: Are you made for the bright lights?

A: I am.

Q: Why do you say that?

A: They call me “Broadway Bobby” (laugh).

Q: I saw clips of you singing and performing in “Chicago The Musical.”

A: That was fun. I sang choir in high school, we did some musical theater stuff, so it’s not new to me.

Q: Do you get into Manhattan a lot?

A: Maybe once a week. I try to stay out of there. … It’s a little too fun (laugh).

Q: Any favorite New York City things?

A: Central Park is a very beautiful place. It’s calming. Soho House is very nice. Lagos the restaurant has good food. And then Broadway shows.

Q: It’s the New York Giants’ 100th anniversary season.

A: It’s a very important year, for our organization, for our front office, for our owners … an organization to just remind people the pride of the New York Giants.

Q: Thoughts on the Century Red uniforms?

A: I like them. It’s a throwback to the original New York Giants. Paying homage to the guys who have paved the way.

Q: What did you know about New York Giants tradition before you came here?

A: Obviously won Super Bowls here. Had a lot of pride. And just had a lot of great players. You see guys like Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Eli Manning, all those guys come back. It’s a very historic or prestigious organization.

Q: What does it mean for you to be a captain, and does anything change with Saquon, Xavier McKinney, and Adoree’ Jackson and Leonard Williams gone?

A: It means a lot to be Captain, because my teammates trust me. It means my teammates see how hard I’m working, and see how much I care about them. And yeah, with that void of leadership, obviously Saquon is an incredible leader. X. has been here for a while, was a very good leader. Adoree’, Leonard like we talked about. … Yeah, it’s an opportunity for me to step up, be more vocal, just be myself. I’ve had success in this league, I know what it takes, I’ve been around great leaders and great players, so just trying to impart that wisdom on the young guys.

Bobby Okereke #58 sacks Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts #1 during the second quarter. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Q: You had 149 tackles last season. What can you do for an encore?

A: 150 (laugh).

Q: That’s realistic.

A: For sure. I had [151] the other year. Yeah, just trying to set personal records.

Q: You didn’t miss a snap last season. How do you explain your durability?

A: Discipline. I had a very disciplined routine, from my sleep to nutrition to recovery. I was always in the training room stretching, trying to do prehab as opposed to rehab, just staying on top of it … controlling everything I can.

Q: Did it tick you off not making the Pro Bowl?

A: A little bit. There were definitely great players who earned it. So now I got to just do better and leave no doubt.

Q: Describe your on-field mentality.

A: Dogmatic. Mentally, physically, emotionally dominant.

Q: What are you like standing in the tunnel before running out on the field?

A: I’m feeling all the emotions. I’m feeling energy, passion, excitement, love for the game. … I’m yelling, screaming, hyping people up. I’m ready to go. Fired up.

Q: What adjectives would you use to describe you off the field?

A: Stoic. Calm, cool, collected (laugh). Personable.

Q: How has the “Hard Knocks” experience been?

A: It’s been subtle. There’s not too much fanfare about it. I know they got cameras in the building, but business as usual.

Q: You were part of in-season “Hard Knocks” with the 2021 Colts.

A: That was a little bit of fanfare (laugh) … cameras, episodes were debuting as we’re practicing. It was an interesting experience.

Q: Do you enjoy playing chess with the quarterback?

A: I do. It’s a little cat-and-mouse game for sure, especially as the game gets going, you get a feel for them, what their quick game looks like, what their dropback play-action looks like. … It’s fun.

Q: What was it like matching wits with Aaron Rodgers?

A: It’s kind of like playing against Philip Rivers. Obviously I got to play with Philip every day in practice [with the 2020 Colts]. The way they process everything on the field, it’s like a radar gun. They see something’s off or they see a coverage or they see someone disguising or pretending to blitz, it clicks to them and they’re making the right check, and obviously their arm talent is off the charts. Very dynamic players.

Q: Your thoughts about Rodgers at age 40 coming off a torn Achilles?

A: Incredible. Obviously the guy loves football.

Q: You wouldn’t be surprised by anything he does?

A: No. I mean, he’s one of the best quarterbacks to play this game.

Aaron Rodgers during practice at OTAs in Florham Park, NJ. Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Q: C.J. Stroud said he would rather have Eli Manning’s career, two rings, than Rodgers’, one ring.

A: You ask most guys, they’d say Eli. You play to win.

Q: Has Dexter been taking food off Brian Daboll’s plate?

A: He might have. That might explain the weight loss (laugh).

Q: Jets coach Robert Saleh was named the sexiest head coach. Where does Daboll rank?

A: I think Daboll does well for himself (laugh).

Q: Do you like the new look?

A: I like the new look. I think it fits him well. He’s got good energy.

Q: Who are linebackers you like watching now?

A: Fred Warner, Roquan Smith, Matt Milano.

Q: If you could go one-on-one in the open field against any RB in NFL history, who would it be?

A: Barry Sanders.

Q: You can defend one TE in NFL history?

A: [Rob] Gronkowski.

Q: You can intercept one quarterback in NFL history?

A: Peyton Manning.

Q: What was it like interning for Condoleeza Rice?

A: That was really cool. I was there at the prestigious Hoover Institution [Stanford]. In the summer I got to work with her for her KPMG program, where she brought underprivileged girls in and held a golf tournament for them.

Q: Is politics something you would ever consider?

A: Sure. Growing up, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I was a kid, I would have told you president of the United States. Yeah, I think politics would potentially be in my future.

Q: You have to be 35 to be president.

A: I got some time (laugh).

Bobby Okereke speaks to the media during camp at the Quest Diagnostics Center. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

Q: You’d be the first Nigerian-American president. That would be a source of pride, wouldn’t it?

A: Very.

Q: Politics is such a headache. Why would you want to …

A: I feel like I’ve grown up wanted to help people. Being a first-generation Nigerian-American, understanding the struggle that my parents went through and some of my relatives go through back in Nigeria … being a Boy Scout, I was an Eagle Scout. So over my time, did a lot of community service projects, helped with the homeless.

Q: What drives you?

A: Wanting to be the best. First and foremost is my heritage. That fuels me every day.

Q: Have you been to Nigeria?

A: I have. I went for the first time in 2020, and I’m going back this June.

Q: What was it like?

A: It was an incredible experience. I was in Lagos for about three, four days, and then I went to the village and got to see my grandma, I got to see where my parents grew up.

Q: Fill in the blank: If you were NFL commissioner, you would …

A: Make every field grass. From an injury-prevention standpoint, I think if you ask majority of players they’ll tell you they feel better playing on grass than turf. Grass gives. If you slip, you’ll tear up a piece of grass. If you slip on turf, you’re not tearing up that piece of turf, knock on wood tearing something up.

Q: Thoughts on Caitlin Clark?

A: Dynamic. She’s paving the way for a lot of people.

Q: What do you make of the jealousy of her?

A: Obviously you don’t want to see her get hurt, so you’d like it to just be healthy competition.

Q: Tell me about your Presidential Travel Services.

A: It’s a luxury chauffeur service company I started in Miami. We have about 10 partnerships right now, in hotels and restaurants and lounges in Miami. It’s been a very fun business venture.

Q: Any of your teammates take you up on being chauffeured?

A: Yeah, a couple. Burns has used it, Darnay [Holmes] has used it.

Q: Why this particular industry?

A: I vacation in Miami a couple of times, and I’ve used the service and saw the demand for it. People want to ride in style, they kind of want that luxury care and service while you’re on vacation. I just want to provide that for teammates and just other potential colleagues.

Q: Would you ever bring it to New Jersey?

A: I’m thinking about it. I want to dominate in Miami, kind of set roots down there, and then transition once you get past that stage.

Q: What is so great about the cars?

A: They’re the best of the best. … Cadillac ESV’s. We got a sport, we got a regular. We got stars on the roof in one, we got another panoramic roof. We got Forgiato rims. It’s just a luxury experience.

Q: How involved are you?

A: Pretty involved. There’s probably not a day that goes by that I’m at least not checking in, talk to my business partner [Sarah Singley], talk to the drivers, going over our financial statements.

Bobby Okereke gets a lesson from David Bushman, dance captain of the musical Chicago with dancers Arian Keddell, left, and Jennifer Dune, right, at the Ambassador Theater in Manhattan. Stephen Yang

Q: Describe St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail in Indianapolis.

A: Very good … exhilarating experience (laugh).

Q: You’ve been to the Indy 500?

A: I have. It was cool. It was crazy to see the whole town be out, like roads blocked off for miles.

Q: Three dinner guests?

A: Will Smith, Barack Obama, Elon Musk.

Q: Why Elon Musk?

A: I think Elon’s one of the smartest people in our generation right now, and he’s probably on the cutting edge of innovation.

Q: Why Obama?

A: He’s an incredible leader, obviously the way he was able to captivate America in his time. I feel like I learned a lot from him. He seems like a very poised individual, very comfortable public speaking, very personable. Just an incredible presence.

Q: Will Smith?

A: One of the best entertainers of our generation for sure. Just his personality, he’s vivacious but he’s inspirational, he’s funny … he’s the total package.

Giants linebacker Bobby Okereke (58) greets fans as he comes off the field at the end of the fourth quarter. Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Q: Favorite movie?

A: “I Am Legend.”

Q: Favorite actor?

A: Will Smith.

Q: Favorite actress?

A: Angelina Jolie.

Q: Favorite singer/rapper/entertainer?

A: Giveon.

Q: Favorite meal?

A: Sushi. Shrimp tempura roll.

Q: What did you think about the way the Knicks and Rangers captivated New York?

A: It was inspiring. It showed us the potential that we have to really make our mark.

Q: What are Giants fans like?

A: I love them. They’re very into the game. They love you when you’re up, they talk s–t when you’re down. But ultimately they just want to see you win.

Q: What message would you have for fans about a) Bobby Okereke, and b) the 2024 New York Giants?

A: I said this for a while, I’m a sideline-to-sideline, physical linebacker … I’m a great leader, I love this game of football, and I’m going to give you guys everything I have. And the 2024 New York Giants are going to be a tough, gritty, dominant team. We have no false pretenses. No one’s coming in here thinking we’re hot s–t, we’re going to earn everything we get, and we’re going to work hard every day.

Q: So in your view, the division is wide open?

A: Yeah. Obviously we got a tough division. Dallas is a very tough team, the Eagles are a tough team, and the Commanders did a lot of work this offseason. It’ll be great competition for us.

Q: Nobody believes in this team. What are your thoughts on that?

A: I love it. You know when you’re an underdog, you fight a little harder, you’re a little hungrier.

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