Mathias Kiwanuka has always been more than willing to help the team where ever he was needed, which is why the defensive end turned linebacker, turned defensive end, turned linebacker, turned defensive end can’t even remember the last time he played at one spot for more than one season.
“I couldn’t tell you,” said the eight-year pro with a smile. “We’d have to go to the film on that one.”
The answer, for those wondering, would be his first and second seasons, when after being drafted in the first round of the 2006 draft as a defensive end out of Boston College (32nd overall), Kiwanuka made the move to outside linebacker in his third NFL season when the coaches sought to optimize his athleticism.
“Whatever this team wants me to do, I’ll do it,” Kiwanuka said of moving around. “As long as we get some wins out of it, I’m good for it.”
At the same time, Kiwanuka admitted that he was glad to be returning full-time to his native defensive end position for the coming season.
“It’s great. It’s fun. I mean, that’s the position I was naturally born to play I feel like, so I’m just having fun being back out here,” he said.
While Kiwanuka had no trouble physically handling both positions, he did allow that the mental aspect of being so versatile was a drain at first having to split his time between the linebackers and defensive line’s meeting rooms.
“It’s definitely easier (now) because you’re not worried about what’s being said in the other meeting room, what’s being said, trying to track coaches down in their off time to get all the rest of the information,” Kiwanuka said.
He also believes that being able to focus on one position will help boost his production.
“I think it will have a huge effect. When you can sit in one meeting room and focus on one task I feel like it puts you at a better competitive advantage to watch film, to study, to work on your own technique, to get your stats up.”
Kiwanuka declined to share his personal goals for the coming season, but noted that as a defense, the unit was definitely looking to bounce back from last year’s subpar showing.
“I think the main thing for us as a group, as a team, is to make sure that not only do we make it to the playoffs but we have a successful season in our eyes, which is a Super Bowl championship,” he said.
What about being tougher in the trenches?
“I feel like we’re always tough. Maybe it didn’t show up on film but you can critique my game and I know personally I take pride in being a tough guy when I go out there on the field,” he said. “For that to be called into question, I know it will be a point of emphasis for me and other guys out there.