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Some Articles From First Day Locker-Room Access

Mr. P

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We just had our first hour of locker-room access and there were a series of interviews with Victor Cruz, Michael Boley, Kevin Boothe, Prince Amukamara and others that netted pertinent information.

But I wanted to start with something that struck me more than anything, and that’s the different look and sound to Da’Rel Scott, who immediately seemed a lot more confident in himself and determined than he did during his first year in the NFL.

“Just having that rookie year under my belt right now and these offseason workouts right now because I feel like I can prepare as much as I can this upcoming season,” the Giants’ running back said while standing at his lockers, arms crossed and eyes trained on the reporter he was addressing. “There are no excuses I can make – ‘Oh, I didn’t have an offseason. I didn’t have enough workouts.’ I have all the access right now, so I can’t make any excuses.

“I’m not going to be one of those guys – ‘Oh, I wish I could’ve done that.’ I’m going to make sure I can take the load if they call my number.”

Scott, a seventh-round pick last year, had a huge preseason that included a 97-yard touchdown run against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, a 65-yard touchdown on a fake punt against the Patriots and 114 yards rushing against New England. But during the regular season, he had only five carries for 16 yards while returning 14 kicks for an average of 24.4 yards per attempt.

Scott, who fumbled on a run in the blowout loss to the Saints, seemed like he was simply trying to navigate his way through his rookie season. But now, he seems intent on making an impact to help a backfield that recently lost Brandon Jacobs to the San Francisco 49ers.

“We definitely have enough,” he said of the current roster. “We did lose Brandon but I just feel me, Danny (D.J. Ware) and ‘Dre (Andre Brown) can step up for him. I feel like we can fill his shoes up and be a major part of the running game.”

Asked if he’s ready to take that next step to a bigger role, Scott quickly replied, “A hundred percent. A hundred percent.”

Am I making too much of a 5-minute interview in mid-April? Maybe. But I just felt a noticeable difference in a player saying the right things and saying them with conviction, such as when he was asked if the team should draft a running back next week.

“It doesn’t matter. If they draft somebody, that’s more competition,” he said. “Just one extra guy. … Hopefully they’re confident enough in me and (feel) they don’t need a back. But we’ll see what happens.”

In the meantime, Scott says he feels much more acclimated already, thanks to an offseason program he and the rest of the rookies didn’t have last year, on account of the lockout.

“Last year, I didn’t know what was going to happen because I didn’t have a lot (of preparation) and they didn’t trust me because I didn’t have the offseason workouts for them to trust me,” Scott said. “I got that year under my belt, I know what’s coming (this) year and I’m just doing everything I can do. Now I know what I have to prepare for so I just feel that more confident.”

He added, “They saw what I can do. Now it’s just a matter of me taking more reps and me being more consistent with that. They know what I can do and hopefully they can give me an opportunity to do it.”

* * * *

Much more coming from me and Jorge Castillo, including Cruz (again) saying he won't hold out, Boley talking about his surprise in learning he's a middle-linebacker candidate, Amukamara on his recovery from a foot procedure and Boothe on Vince Wilfork's being mic'd up while talking about the phantom hold.






Prince Amukamara’s old-school high-top fade is gone – he’s sporting a low-cut look now – but another familiar feature still lingers for the cornerback: foot trouble.

Amukamara is still dealing with the effects of a broken bone in his left foot he suffered in training camp last August that forced him miss the preseason and first nine games of the regular season after having an injection put into his foot in mid-March. He’s in East Rutherford to participate in team workouts, but can only lift. Running won’t be on the agenda for a least a couple weeks, he said.

Amukamara said the injection, in which doctors took stem cells from his hip and put them into the previously broken bone to aid regeneration, was done as a precautionary measure.

“They just wanted me to not only feel 100 percent, because I told them I felt 100 percent, but just so the x-ray shows that also,” he said. “The x-ray didn’t show quite as much as healing as they wanted to do so…[they’re] just taking all precautions.”

The Giants’ first round pick last year, Amukamara’s rookie season was a frustrating one. He didn’t have the benefit of an offeason due to the lockout and after becoming the final first-round selection to sign, he broke his foot a couple days after arriving for training camp.

The setbacks then spilled into his play onto the field. He started his career with an interception of Vince Young in his first series against the Eagles, but struggled over the latter part of the season and was ultimately benched at halftime against the Redskins in a Week 15 loss.

But with Aaron Ross now in Jacksonville and a full offseason ahead, Amukamara has an opportunity to solidify a role in the secondary. Terrell Thomas, who is coming off a torn ACL, is projected to start opposite Corey Webster, yet Amukamara sees a chance to step in and compete.

“We still have more DBs so there’s still a lot of competition but I’m just coming into this camp, into season with the mindset that I have a job to go get,” he said.

And by that does he mean the starting job?

“For sure,” he asserted. “That feeling of just coming off the bench, it never set well with me and I’ve always been a competitor so I just have to keep it going this year.”



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The Giants are back to work this week. That’s the story.

Albeit an inaccurate one, in some cases. Including one rather important one.

“I really never stopped working,” defensive captain Justin Tuck said today after participating in the team’s offseason workouts. “This is your first day seeing me but I’ve been here a lot. It really isn’t any different for me other than everybody else is in here.”

Tuck has proof that he’s been around, as he tweeted a picture of himself working out at the Giants’ facility on March 20. That was roughly around the time offseason workouts used to begin under the old collective bargaining agreement.

And speaking of the CBA, that’s part of the reason Tuck has been working hard this offseason. You see, he believes his injury-plagued 2011 season (in which he missed four games because of neck and groin issues and also had problems with his shoulder once again) was a result of not being in good enough shape.

“I’m just working harder,” he said. “Last year, with all of the uncertainty around football, I might’ve laxed a little bit in my regimens. But I guarantee you that won’t be the case this year."

Asked if his increased workload is a direct response to last season, Tuck replied, “A little bit. But I’m a New Jersey resident now. So instead of just sitting at home and watching cartoons, I came and worked out.”

Tuck had only five sacks last season, his lowest figure since a foot issue limited him to six games in 2006. He also struggled mentally and even found himself uncharacteristically quitting on a play during the loss to the Saints.

Sure, it all worked out fine in the end, as he learned to manage his injury issues and dealt with off-the-field heartache before recording 3½ sacks combined in the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl XLVI. But Tuck realizes this team needs him in top form, especially with Osi Umenyiora’s contract situation and the loss of Dave Tollefson threatening to thin the ranks of the Giants’ pass rush.

And, oh yeah, it’s getting close to contract-extension time for him. So increased production this season will only help him in that regard.

“Stronger, more endurance,” Tuck, who has two years left on his current deal, said when asked what he’s working to achieve. “They say fatigue can make a coward out of all of us. And if you get fatigued, you start laxing in things, start laxing in technique and things like that.

“I think part of the reason I got hurt early in the year is because I let my guard down. I don’t see myself doing that this year.”

* * * *

More from Tuck:

--On Umenyiora’s situation: “I don’t know. You never know with that guy and what the scenario is going to be this year. But I just wish for the best. Obviously, he’s a huge part of our success on defense but (also) the little things he does in the locker room as far as taking some of the pressure off the young guys and so on and so forth. I’m definitely rooting for him to be back, but at the end of the day you just want the best for him.”

--More on Osi and what he brings: “Having fun on the football field, being in this locker room, telling and cracking jokes. He’s a vet guy and he knows how to get himself ready and he can relay that to the young guys. Not only is he a great performer but he’s also a great teacher. He’s always staying after practices late working on his pass (rush) moves with the young guys and just teaching them how to be true pros. He’s part of the reason why I became a true pro, he and Stray, and I learned a lot from him. He’s continued to kind of pass that down to the younger guys.”

--On the Giants’ patented up-and-down seasons of late: “It seems like we always get off to a good start and then middle of the season we start playing like crap until we find a way to finish. Hopefully, we can start fast and prolong that speed and go all the way through the season instead of having those lulls. There’s so much parity in this league that any team can beat you. Teams are going to have those lapses but lucky for us we figure out ways to kind of fight through them and be strong. But you want to go through a year and be strong the entire year.”

--On the players putting last year behind them: “You don’t have to put it back yet. They’re still patting us on the shoulder, they’re still asking us about last year with the combination of this year. It hasn’t gone anywhere yet but this team we understand everyone wants to be around a winner and we’re blessed to be able to win it last year and for good reason. This team, when it’s time to work we’re going to come in here and work, be humble and understand last year doesn’t have a lot to do with this year. We have to be our own team just like last year was 2011, this team is the 2012 team.”

--On QB Eli Manning making the NFL Network’s top 100 players this year: “How could that be? It’s a tie. Him and Tom Brady are tied at 100.”

--On Manning hosting SNL: “Eli’s on Saturday Night Live? Why’d they do that? I might watch it for that simple fact right there. (Yells across room to Manning) Eli, you’re with Rihanna? I would say I’m jealous but… (Reminded he’s married) That’s what I said.”






Victor Cruz, in the midst of a busy offseason, made two guarantees this morning for the upcoming 2012 season.

One, he won’t be changing the touchdown salsa dance routine that has become his staple on and off the field.

And two, a holdout won't be in the cards, just as Cruz asserted earlier this month at the release of the NFL's new Nike uniforms.


Cruz maintained that he’ll be on the field to catch passes from Eli Manning and salsa dance in the end zone regardless of his contract, which as of right now is scheduled to pay him a sum of $490,000 for the 2012 season.

“That’s going to take care of itself,” Cruz said of his contract situation. “I have people who I hired to care of that aspect of my life. So they’ll do their jobs and when the time comes we’ll see how it goes.”


When asked if he envisions the Giants re-working his deal in the lead-up to the season or during the campaign, Cruz said he doesn’t know and discussions haven’t begun.

For now he wants to remain the same person and player that went undrafted, worked his way onto the field and capitalized.

“I’ve never been the kind of guy to hold out or rebel or anything like that ... because I didn’t have that opportunity,” he explained. “I didn’t get drafted. Anytime I got to be in here and got to be in an NFL locker room, I take advantage of it even if it’s after a Super Bowl or something like that. So I’m just happy to be here and the money stuff and the contract stuff will kind of take care of itself.”

Earlier in the offseason, Cruz told Pro Football Talk Live, “I feel like I deserve to be paid more money at this point.” But Cruz maintains he was taken out of context and said he hasn’t received any fallout from the comment besides some close friends joking with him.

“That was kind of one of my biggest fears once I made that initial comment,” he said. “But I think the context that I used it in was the right way and I didn’t try to make it seem like I was just being selfish or anything like that. But obviously the media uses a good job of taking just certain excerpts of what I say and making it into news so I got a little nervous but I continue to remain focused and stay humble. And overall I kind of just stopped talking about it overall, which made it better.”


Of course, his salary from the Giants isn’t the only way he’s bringing in some income. He’s done some modeling and other ventures this offseason.

“It’s been a good offseason to say the least,” he said.


Cruz lost in the quarterfinals of the Madden 13 cover vote to 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis and he admitted it stung a little bit. Cruz said, as a believer of God, he wasn’t worried about the supposed curse that comes along with being on the cover and wanted to be on the cover.

“You watch the cover every year, you play Madden every year, you always want to see who gets the cover,” he said. “And to see myself on that cover would’ve been a dream come true.”


The Giants are the reigning Super Bowl champions, but the Jets have managed to steal the headlines by bringing in Tim Tebow to serve as Mark Sanchez’s backup. Cruz said he could see how it was perhaps a move to take some of the spotlight from the in-town rival.

“Potentially, potentially,” he said. “But anytime another team makes a move, that’s going to grab headlines regardless. We knew it was going to happen, we didn’t know it was going to be Tebow, but we knew they were going to make a move and they did something.”



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