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New York Giants’ Prince Amukamara: Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz Help Improve Our Defense

July 19th, 2013 at 9:00 AM
By Dan Benton

When talking about wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, much of the discussion is often focused on how their two different styles of play help break down opposing defenses. However, for defensive backs on the New York Giants, having those two around only serves to make that defensive unit better, says cornerback Prince Amukamara.

'Commissioner Goodell with Prince Amukamara' photo (c) 2011, Marianne O'Leary - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

"It gets us better. You get the best of both worlds. It's choose your poison. Do you want to go against a fast shifty guy like Cruz or a bigger guy in Nicks. It prepares you for two different types of powers. I'm glad we have that on our team," Amukamara said during a chat with SportsNation on Thursday.

In addition to addressing questions about Nicks and Cruz, video games, pre-game rituals and his potential to break out some dance moves in 2013, Amukamara was also asked what he's gotten better at. And rather than saying it was his footwork, speed or something more field-related, the Prince admitted it was his handling of the oppressive New York media.

"The first thing would be off the field in handling the media. Coming from Nebraska, the coverage in New York is a whirl wind and can be overwhelming. With a lot of stuff that happened, the broken foot, the holdout, the cold tub was preparation for me," he said.

On the field? Well, he's improved on exactly what his teammates have been harping about for the last two years. They call it "swagger;" he calls it confidence.

"On the field, confidence. Just because I played a lot of games last year compared to my first year, it took my game to a whole other level," he added.

He'll need that confidence if he's going to achieve his goal of becoming the best cornerback in the entire league.

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Tags: Football, Hakeem Nicks, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Prince Amukamara, Victor Cruz

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9 Responses to “New York Giants’ Prince Amukamara: Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz Help Improve Our Defense”

  1.  fanfor55years says:

    re-post:

    Now that camp is approaching, I’ve given more thought to the team and come to the conclusion that this squad should actually have a very good shot at fielding a quality defense. I think many fans, and nearly all the analysts, are guilty of looking backwards and projecting from last season.

    I look at the defensive ends and see a healthier JPP, a contract-year Tuck (who also managed to get himself into the best physical condition he’s been in in four years by his own admission, which is sad because it really indicates that it is all about the money when we’d all like it to be about the pride on the part of a captain), a finally-playing-his-natural-position Kiwi, and three natural pass-rushers among Ojomo, Tracy and Moore. I like that group and feel confident they will have a bounce-back year.

    Then I look at defensive tackle and think we are so much better than we were last season with the additions that have been made that we should see a quantum leap in play. Those of you who still question Jenkins are just wrong. He’s a very solid NFL player with a number of good years left and will make a real difference. Patterson, too, is a quality player if he can be healthy and fully cleared to play, which looks to be the case. If you watch tape of Hankins you will be impressed. He makes at least 3-4 dominant plays in just about every game. Obviously he will go through a learning curve, but he’s a good one. Joseph cannot have gone from pretty good to awful in one season. He probably just wore down last season after starting weakly and had a classic “slump”. Having to now fight for a job should get his motor running and his game better. And while Rogers is old, he is still probably a premier run-stopper if allowed to play a moderate number of snaps. I’m not even going to think about Austin except to say he could be a huge X-factor if he proves anywhere close to worthy of the scouts’ and Reese’s decision to draft him high.

    So I’m feeling very good about the defensive front, which is the critical element that makes all defenses work.

    Then going to the back of the defense I think we are in great shape at safety because I have GREAT confidence in Rolle in that center-field role, and after watching some more of Stevie Brown on game tapes think his physicality is greater than I realized. Unlike many, I like Mundy and think he can be a really good player for us. You all know I love Will Hill and think if he learns what he needs and keeps working he will be a star in the NFL. I don’t know about Taylor, but I don’t think he matters all that much this season anyway. I don’t know that Sash will make the roster in the absence of an injury, but I really like this group of safeties (especially if you consider Terrell Thomas a possible “addition” as a swing player who can play the slot area as a safety or corner if his knee really can hold up….and I’ve learned that one should never assume modern surgical techniques cannot make a huge difference, as we have all seen with Andre Brown).

    Cornerback is my biggest concern, but I am tremendously confident that Prince is ready to step into elite status (I actually think he was about there last season even if that wasn’t recognized) and think that Corey Webster can have a bounce-back season, especially if he is covering #2 receivers. Hosley should be far better with experience, and even if he’s not ready I appear to be among the few who actually like Aaron Ross as a slot corner (love the way he defends the run, and while he will get beaten occasionally by top slot receivers, he knows where to be on the field and how to get help from his safeties). Then there’s TT. I just have a funny feeling (based in part on what I heard he looked like in OTAs) that he can come back and get a roster spot. I’m also hearing that this Fredericks kid shows promise, though I know nada about him.

    We’ve discussed the linebackers at length. My position is that with THAT much potential among that many candidates, fielding three good ones should not be that hard. I think we’ll see Herzlich, Rivers and Williams starting, and doing well. But what I really like is that Jim Hermann will be able to insert Connor, Paysinger, and Curry in appropriate situations. Paysinger can seal the edge against ANY running quarterback. Connor is a consistent run-stopper. Curry, to me, has incredible upside potential because I believe him when he says he was an immature fool who got the big dollars and didn’t focus on getting better, but now realizes that if he wants to stay in the NFL this is probably his last chance. I love the hungry guys who also happen to have deep reservoirs of talent. The knock on Curry in Seattle was that he “didn’t know how to play the game”. I think that’s code for “He didn’t study enough to understand his reads and how to fit into the defense, so he was constantly caught out of position because he thought he was a stud who could just freelance and make plays like he did in college.” If his knee is sound I think he’ll give us very good play.

    Call me a homer, but I’m coming around on this defense.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      I agree on almost everything so I guess I will just speak on the few points I don’t.

      I don’t think any 32 year old DT has years left of good football. And I don’t think Rodgers makes the team. I just don’t see the value of having both him and Patterson with Hankins around. I think it’s either Patterson or Rodgers with a very slight chance of neither. I thin Rodgers would have helped last year but with our new DTs he’s just not needed this year.

      I have higher hopes for Cooper than Mundy for this season.

      I get the feeling Ross is done and our SB run was his last hooray.

      I don’t have confidence everything will come together on defense but I think it could. Our CB depth is what scares me. Prince besides Eli is our most valuable player this year because of what’s behind him.

      •  fanfor55years says:

        I don’t think both Rogers and Patterson will make the team. I just like that both are competing to do so. One or the other should help, although if Austin flashes it’s possible neither will make the roster because we know Joseph, Hankins and Jenkins will. Kuhn is likely to wind up on PUP, or even IR. But my point is that with all of this potential quality, when the smoke clears at the end of August we should have at least four really solid players at DT (maybe five, depending on how they decide to structure the roster, but I’m guessing four).

        I think you’re fooling yourself to think a rookie from Richmond is going to contribute a lot this season. I also think you might be depending too much for your opinion about Mundy on the stuff said about him by Steelers’ fans. They will always hate him for that blown coverage that cost them that playoff game in Denver, and they always thought he was garbage because he wasn’t as good as their starting duo, which just happened to be the best in the league. Anyway, I’ll be surprised if Mundy doesn’t make the roster and contribute on special teams and occasionally on defense.

        I like Ross as a decent player (nothing special) who populates the roster of any good team in the NFL and can do a somewhat better-than-average job because he understands the scheme and gets himself into the correct positions.

        The corners worry me too. We cannot afford injuries there. Prince, in particular, needs to stay healthy. It would be a HUGE boost if Thomas can get to 95% of what he was when he first went down. He looked ready to become a big-time player. And one of the youngsters (besides Hosley, who absolutely needs to step up and make use of his extraordinary talent) needs to not only make the roster but show some promise that he could survive out there if needed.

        But all-in-all, after looking carefully, I like this defense a lot more than the punditry and most of the fans do.

        •  GOAT56 says:

          I think Cooper will be used in some ways like Williams was his rookie year. And more as the year goes along. I look for him to play nickel LB along side Williams maybe not at first but by midseason. I think talent wise he’s not the normal 5th round pick and Richmond has quality coaching. I don’t hold a low opinion of Mundy from Pitt fans – but I know they don’t think highly of him. I just think Hill will win the 3rd safety job because he’s a very talented player nothing about Mundy. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mundy didn’t make the roster because of how I feel about Hill and Cooper. I think Sash might need 2 injuries to make the roster he’s probably the longest shot to make the roster if any holdover.

          I understand what you’re saying about Ross. You could be right. His performance last year and prior to 2011 just leads be to believe he had one last solid year and now is a JAG. So I would be disappointed in Hosley if he can’t beat Ross out. It’s possible Ross could do a good job but I just don’t have confidence in him.

  2.  GOAT56 says:

    Repost:

    Krow says:
    July 19, 2013 at 5:35 AM
    Goat … I know we differ on the franchise tag. But I do appreciate that it’s an option. I just don’t feel the Giants would use it. If you look at our history it’s a tactic that’s been employed very sparingly. And I’d be hard pressed to find an example that would parallel Nicks’ situation.

    Once it’s gotten to the point where a player decides he’s leaving then trapping them … forcing one more unhappy and reluctant year out of them … well it’s not something the Giants seem to do.

    Now if there’s progress on a deal … and they need some space to finish it off … like with Weatherford … then yes, they might do it. But if they’re at impasse then I think they let him walk. Because at that point he has an offer we won’t match. An offer he’ll get a year from now.

    Reply

    •  GOAT56 says:

      When has a player like Nicks that we have had even been close to free agency? This situation is different than what we have faced id we don’t extend Nicks in the next few months. Players of his quality have always been handed way before free agency. But it seems that Nicks is willing to bet on himself more than some of the past great players we have had. We can’t force Nicks to re-sign but given the quality of player he is we can force him to stay for at least a year. This is not Manningham. As Demo and others have pointed out we don’t let players we really wan to keep walk. But I agree that Nicks is a little different because he doesn’t seem to be as interested in staying as others have been. So a fair offer like we got done with Cruz might not work with Nicks to keep him off the market. But I can’t see us just throwing up our hands and allowing him to walk when we can keep him at a reasonable 10.5 mil for 2014. Now that amount is going to hit our cap worse than a long term deal would but it’s worth it in my view to give it another year to see if a long term deal can be worked out. Plus if he is going to leave I don’t see Randle being ready for a #1 role in 2014 but by 2015 I feel like he could be ready. Also look at the WRs we have going into 2014 right now, all we have is Cruz and Jernigan. We need to add some players through the draft to be prepare to handle the loss of Nicks if we can’t agree to a long term deal.

      Simply put you just don’t let a play like Nicks walk with out making every reasonable effort. I see the franchise tag as a reasonable effort.

  3.  fanfor55years says:

    Nicks would have to be a Riverboat Gambler to not sign with us. I assume that somewhere around the beginning of October, after Reese feels Nicks has shown that his knee is okay, he will be approached with a proposed deal. At that time he will still have most of this season, and next (I also assume Reese will tell his agent that the Giants DO intend to franchise him if they cannot get a deal done) to play. That’s about a minimum of 30 games (including playoffs) that Hakeem would have to endure before he got to sign a huge contract. To extract an additional $2-$3MM per year at the risk of injury over that span of games would be an insane bet. He might win it, but why make it when you have probably been offered $10MM per annum and a guarantee of $25-$30MM?

    As for the Giants, there’s NO WAY they want to contemplate the absence of Hakeem Nicks. If they keep Eli, Hakeem, Victor, Randle and Wilson together they will be competing for a championship for the next 5-6 years, and they damn well know it. You simply don’t worry about going a bit beyond your comfort level to retain the second most important player on your team. John Mara is a businessman, but he is also the heir to a family tradition and he wants to win more rings. Anyone who thinks he isn’t aware of how many championships the Steelers, Packers, Cowboys, Patriots and others have, and how good a chance he has to get a few more while the team benefits from Ernie Accorsi’s knowledge and guts, is crazy. I think the Nicks situation can be solved with guaranteed money, and probably will be, but in any case the Giants will retain Nicks unless he is just a crazy gambler who hopes to get lucky even if he knows the odds are deeply stacked against him.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      Great players get to free agency because they are willing to take those risks all the time. We have been fortunate that we have had players that weren’t try to maximize their money. Steve Smith was sort of doing that before he got injured. Once we get into the year I think things get dicey because not all players want to negotiate during the season. If we don’t sign him before the season ends we will have to fork over really big money to keep him.

  4.  giankees says:

    Even though reese never uses the tag i can see them using it to buy them time to see how randle pans out and it also gets them closer to the year that cruz doesnt have guarenteed money. In addition you get to see his how he is physically over the next 2 yrs. You can always sign him during the tag yr.

    As far as leach if it means rhino is out than sign him but if rhino is coming back and its not just his agent saying he will be back by week 1. Then go with bear and rhino and use that money for a db that is dumped for salary cap reasons during camp. Im nervous about db im not worried about lb due to the joker and or the 3rd safety. We can always adjust at lb. Db we are one injury from being in serious trouble.

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