Friday, August 5, 2011
Prince Amukamara plays catch-up
By Ohm Youngmisuk ESPNNewYork.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Prince Amukamara hopped on a 5:45 a.m. flight Friday morning from Nebraska to New Jersey and was greeted by New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin and general manager Jerry Reese with pretty much the same question.
"They smiled and teased me a little bit, saying where have I been," Amukamara said.
The rookie cornerback was the last first-round pick to sign, coming to terms late Thursday night.
In his first practice, Amukamara saw very little action as he tried to absorb the Giants' defensive scheme.
"It depends on how fast he can learn a new language," Coughlin said of how long the adjustment will be for Amukamara. "It is Chinese to him right now so he has a lot of work to do that way."
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The cornerback missed the team's first five practices while his agent worked out the details of a four-year deal worth $8.18 million, with the first three years fully guaranteed and a little more than half of the fourth year guaranteed.
"Just language with minor details," Amukamara said of the holdup.
While his agent negotiated, Amukamara said he anxiously wanted to get into camp. Fans gave him a hard time on Twitter but none was more persistent than his father.
"My dad just kept saying, 'These guys are signed, these guys are signed,' and I said, 'Daddy, don't worry, everything is going to work out,'" Amukamara said.
The Giants hope that the cornerback they selected 19th overall will make a difference this season. The Giants already have Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross at cornerback, but they are looking for an extra defensive back to fill the role left behind by free agent Deon Grant.They also lost backup cornerback Bruce Johnson, who was waived/injured after he ruptured his Achilles tendon Thursday.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell often used three safeties on the field during passing situations instead of a third linebacker last year. Safeties coach Dave Merritt said the team could use Thomas in that role on certain passing downs.
Amukamara hopes it won't take him long to learn Fewell's system.
"Being at Nebraska, our defense was pretty diverse and complex like it is here," Amukamara said. "I am trying to apply to how it is there and I am doing that right now and catching on pretty quickly."
He saw limited snaps in practice while lining up mostly at right cornerback. He did get beat on a 15-yard completion to wide receiver Todd Watkins on one play. But other than that it was pretty much just watch and learn for Amukamara on his first day as a Giant.
"I'm fully confident in my learning ability and I just have to put in the work and can't take any days off when we do have days off and keep grinding," Amukamara said. "They just want me to get back into the groove. But time is running out so I'm sure they want to work me in pretty quickly."
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.