Giants looking for players to step up
It seems that every training camp there is one doomed team that must experience great loss before the regular season even begins. Unfortunately for the Giants, they seem to have drawn the short end of that stick.
Following Monday night’s win over the Bears — a game that was marred by three season-ending injuries — the Giants spent most of their first practice since that game talking about how guys need to step up. The NFL is not a league where teams throw pity parties for others, so the Giants need to get out of the malaise quickly with the cross-town rival Jets on the horizon, Saturday.
Defensive end Justin Tuck said the bright side is that unknown players have the opportunity to become household names if they successfully fill the voids.
“It’s football. Obviously it’s unfortunate to happen, but like I always say, guys have to step up,” Tuck said. “New guys have opportunities now and it gives guys more of a chance to showcase their football talents.”
Tuck, arguably the defense’s preeminent spokesman, said he won’t allow for his team to feel sorry for itself.
“No need to ask ‘why?’ It won’t bring them back or fill the holes that their absences left. We can’t sit here and pity ourselves because the teams we’re playing this year won’t,” Tuck said. “We’ve got to move forward. Does it hurt? Absolutely but it’s football. Every team has injuries and every team has people that go down. But it’s the teams that bounce back from it and you see in the playoffs that still compete for championships every year.”
The Giants brought in four cornerbacks for workouts yesterday, including former Eagle Lito Sheppard and veterans Brian Williams and Dre’ Bly. Williams has reportedly signed with the team, but even if the aforementioned may all have some tread left on their tires, the Giants are secretly hoping some of the younger corners can help fill the void.
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who’s doing his own share of void filling, said he’s confident the solution is inside the locker room.
“We came together and prayed about it,” Pierre-Paul said. “But now we just have to move on. The next person just has to step up.”
Darnell Burks thinks he can help lessen the blow. An undrafted rookie from Fort Valley State, Burks was once considered on the fringe, but may now have a bigger role. He’s coming off a nice performance in the Bears game (three solo tackles) and feels that while he may be a relative unknown, he’s confident he’ll make a name for himself.
“I came here when Bruce [Johnson] went down and I felt I had a good chance of staying on even before all the injuries happened,” said Burks, who added his style fits what the Giants are looking for in a corner. “I consider myself an aggressive corner who loves to press.”
Whomever the Giants use to fill in the gaps in the secondary, don’t look for first-round pick Prince Amukamara to come to the rescue anytime soon. Amukamara, who broke his foot in his first official practice following a lengthy holdout, was seen hobbling around in a walking boot following the game. He said it hurt almost as much to see Terrell Thomas go down as it did for himself and is itching for a return.
“I kind of wanted to cry for him [because] I definitely have that older brother feeling towards him,” Amukamara said. “It definitely just sucks to see any teammate go down, but from what I saw, he’s strong minded and I know he knows everything is going to be alright.”
Amukamara acknowledged the amount of expectations for him pre-injury. And now that all the defensive backs are dropping like flies it’s only adding to his angst.
“The expectation bar just feels like it got a little bit higher, a lot higher for me,” he said. “I just need to continue to stay into it mentally [because] they haven’t given me a timetable and there’s no pain. I think they said from the beginning that it’d be from eight to 10 weeks. But who knows? It could be shorter than that, or it could be longer than that. I feel no pain, so I think that’s a good sign.”
Right now, the Giants could use all the good signs they can get.
Big Blue notes
» Newly-signed DT Jimmy Kennedy may not be the best player on the roster, but he may be the best quote machine. The nine-year vet had a horde around him as he regaled the media with tales of his days as a youth in Yonkers growing up a Giants fan.
When the Giants coaches asked him which films they could watch from last year’s stint with the Vikings and see some of his highlights, he bluntly replied, “nothing.” Kennedy then proceeded to break the pro athlete’s unwritten code of never admitting you’re basically stealing money from the team with this gem: “I don’t think I did anything to justify my contract … I understand why Minnesota let me go.”
But as swift as he was to give an honest self-evaluation, Kennedy then quickly boasted he’s the best at what he does: “If you ask me who the best defensive tackle is in the NFL, I’ll tell you Jimmy Kennedy.” Self assurance is the first thing needed for an athlete to have swagger — even if everyone else doesn’t believe it. Good to know Eli Manning is teaching the newcomer well.
» Justin Tuck said no matter what the name says on the place formerly known as the New Meadowlands Stadium he’s still calling it by one name only: “Giants Stadium. I’m glad MetLife is sponsoring it but to me it’ll always be Giants Stadium.”
Tuck also said he’s enjoying the cross-town rivalry with the Jets: “The rivalry has been more intense since [Jets head coach] Rex [Ryan] came over but this is still a preseason game … but come that game right before Christmas it might be a different story.”
Follow Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8 for updates from Giants camp and coverage of Big Blue all season long.