Umenyiora won't take bait on McCoy

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
6:09
PM ET


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Osi Umenyiora spoke to reporters for several minutes after Thursday's practice -- and refused to pour any more gasoline on his feud with Eagles running back LeSean McCoy.

"He's a great player, he's entitled to his own opinion, and that's the way it's gonna be," Umenyiora said.

The war of words between McCoy and Umenyiora reignited this week, when McCoy called Umenyiora a "ballerina" in an interview that aired on "E:60" on Tuesday night.

"I'm done talking about him and all that stuff that's going on," Umenyiora said. "We have a big game this week, a big game against Philadelphia, and that's pretty much what my focus is."

It is a big game, considering it's only Week 4 of the regular season. Both teams are tied for first in the NFC East at 2-1, along with the Cowboys, in what is expected to be a competitive race for the division crown.

The Giants already have a strike against them, with an 0-1 record within the division after losing to Dallas in their season opener. Divisional record can be an important tiebreaker at the end of the regular season, and the Giants are staring at the prospect of starting 0-2 -- something coach Tom Coughlin spoke with the team about on Thursday.

"Biggest game of the year," Umenyiora said. "We can't go 0-2. It's gonna be a big hole for us to climb out of, if we go 0-2."

The rivalry between the Giants and Eagles has grown even more intense in recent years, with the two teams often jockeying for playoff position, and even facing each other in the postseason.

Throw in the fact that this game will be played on national TV, in prime time, and in Philadelphia, and there's bound to be some fireworks Sunday night.

"They're rowdy," Umenyiora said, when asked about the Philadelphia fans. "You pull up on the bus, and you see them on the side, flipping you off and all kind of crazy stuff. Those guys are intense. When they hate you, they really hate you. And they really hate me."

When asked why Philadelphia fans hate him so much, Umenyiora replied, "Well, obviously some of the games that I've had against Philly in the past couple of years. And then now with all this recent back-and-forth that was going on, it's just picked it up. To be honest with you, I enjoy it."

The Giants are hoping their defensive line -- headlined by Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul -- can have a breakout game against the Eagles. So far this season, that trio -- which recorded 30.5 sacks in the 2011 regular season -- has just 1.5 sacks in 2012.

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has already been sacked nine times in three games.

But Tuck believes the secret to beating the Eagles is actually shutting down someone other than Vick -- the man who called Umenyiora a ballerina.

"Y'all can talk about Vick all you want to. If McCoy's allowed to run rampant, we ain't gonna have a chance to hit Vick anyway," Tuck said. "That's the saying -- there's the gun hand and the knife hand. You always wanna stop the gun hand. In that offense, I think McCoy's the gun, and the passing game's the knife."
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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