Saturday, December 8, 2012
Prince stepping up to the plate
By Matt Ehalt
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- At first, Perry Fewell needed to see something extra from cornerback Prince Amukamara.
"I was very leery, I (was) saying, 'I want more out of Prince, I want him to do this, I want him to do that,'" Fewell said Thursday.
After reviewing tape during the bye week, though, the Giants' defensive coordinator had a change of heart.
"Although he needs to be better technique-wise, he’s really progressed and done some nice things," Fewell said. "Can he be better and can he be more dominant? I think he can and I think he wants to be. He is gaining experience. I’m just letting him grow, mature and learn even more. I think Prince is going to be a pretty good football player for us."
Since becoming a starter in the fourth week of the season, Amukamara has shown flashes of why the Giants selected him in the first round of last year's draft. The cornerback hasn't been hampered by injuries, which slowed him throughout his rookie season and even through the first few weeks of this year.
"I'd agree with them that I have been improving and am starting to feel comfortable out there," Amukamara said.
The cornerback came to the Giants with high expectations, but his rookie year didn't go as planned. He missed the team's first nine games with a broken left foot, and then struggled when he came back. While he played during the Super Bowl run, he didn't showcase the talent that made him one of the draft's top corners.
This year, things got off to a tough start once again as he missed time in the spring after an injection in his foot, and then suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason. Giants general manager Jerry Reese even seemed to challenge Amukamara, saying he expected him to play like a first-round draft pick this season.
Amukamara has responded with what's been a very solid season. Giants coach Tom Coughlin has praised the 23-year-old for being a steady player. He liked what he saw on the first play of Monday night's game, when Amukamara was step-for-step with Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon on an incomplete deep ball.
"I think he got off to a bad start with not having OTAs and not being able to be out there participating," fellow Giants cornerback Corey Webster said. "Since then he's had time to develop, he's getting more comfortable every week with the scheme we're trying to run with, going out there and competing at a high level, and he's getting better every week."
As he continues to improve, Amukamara said he wants to progress in his man-to-man skills and also working on "zone eyes." He's become more confident in himself entering the final four games of the regular season.
"For sure," Amukamara said. "I've been up against a lot of great players so far. I'm definitely confident in the scheme we have here on defense. That helps a lot."