Prince wasn't happy after benching

December, 23, 2011
12/23/11
9:00
AM ET


Prince Amukamara's benching did not sit too well with the rookie.

Then again, Amukamara did not even know he had been benched at the time.

"Inside I was extremely (ticked) off but I don't wear my emotions on my sleeve so I didn't show it," Amukamara told reporters on Thursday. "My coach didn't tell me 'Prince, we're sitting you, we're benching you because you're not playing well.' They just told me they were going with a different package.

"I thought they were putting Deon (Grant) in just so they could fit the run better. If I was benched, and that's what it felt like it was, I was extremely (ticked) off."

After the roughest game of his NFL career, Amukamara is going to have to try to turn that anger into a positive in a crucial game for the Giants against the Jets on Saturday. The rookie has had three tough games as he tries to learn on the fly in his first season.

"I don't think confidence is an issue, especially off the field or just whatever I do," Amukamara said to reporters. "But it is the NFL, and every one here is a professional and every one here has to make plays."

In Sunday's 23-10 loss against Washington, Amukamara got beat on third down for a touchdown, as well as giving up a fourth-down and third-down conversion. The latter led to a touchdown that gave the Redskins a 17-0 lead at the time. Washington clearly picked on him when he was in the game before the team pulled him for the second half. The rookie couldn't even remember the last time he had been benched prior to it.

His struggles followed a rough game against Dallas on Dec. 11 in which he gave up a 74-yard pass that helped set up a late Cowboys touchdown and previously getting beat by Greg Jennings for a touchdown in the loss to Green Bay on Jan. 4. Prior to that, the rookie had played two solid games against Philadelphia and New Orleans.

These struggles aren't to be unexpected, though, as Amukamara signed his contract late and got injured early in training camp, robbing him of valuable practice time. He missed the Giants first nine games of the season before returning to the team on Nov. 20 against Philadelphia, a game in which he recorded an interception.

"We're going to continue to work with him, continue to push him, continue to try to bring him along as fast as we can," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said on Monday. "He literally has had no preseason and very little practice time during the season. He’s a young guy that has talent that has struggled from time to time with his physical ailments as well as his understanding and knowledge of the speed of the play and what people are trying to do to him."

Despite the struggles, the Giants have no plans of keeping Amukamara on the sideline when they take on the Jets on Saturday.

"We’ll play him. He’ll play this week," Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "No doubt. I think he’s up for the challenge."

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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