In addition to being an avid supporter of this blog, Justin Tuck is the best defensive player for the New York Giants. And though he's one of the best quotes in the league, he's never been a rah-rah guy on the field in the mold of a Michael Strahan or Antonio Pierce.
The problem for the Giants is that Strahan and Pierce aren't anywhere to be found. This offseason, both Strahan and Tom Coughlin have encouraged Tuck to get outside his comfort zone and become more of a vocal leader for the Giants. On Wednesday, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com had a good story on how Tuck is transitioning into this new role.
"There are so many personalities on the defense, I got to be very diplomatic in certain situations," Tuck told Youngmisuk. "You got to know how to push some guy's buttons without pushing them away. In this camp, I am not really talking a lot. I am kind of paying attention to what buttons need to be pushed. Once the season gets in and we kind of get into the game plan, I can kind of step forward and be more of a leader."
Tuck is not going to be forced into being someone he is not. But the fact that he is completely healthy at this point gives him more confidence. He hated the idea of admonishing his teammates last season when he did not feel like he was playing up to par. Tuck suffered a shoulder injury in Week 2 against the Cowboys and never fully recovered.
He recently told the Beast that he was disappointed when he found out that Jerry Jones had released left tackle Flozell Adams, the player who caused Tuck's injury. Now he'll have to make due with Doug Free at that spot.
If he can remain healthy, I think you'll see Tuck be a lot more assertive in 2010. And the arrival of defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has also added to the defensive end's growing confidence. If the Giants are going to look more like the '07 and '08 teams, Tuck will need to lead the way.
Something tells me he'll be up to the task.