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Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Michael Strahan visits Giants' D-line

By Ohm Youngmisuk

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Michael Strahan visited the New York Giants facility on Wednesday and made sure to have a chat with the team's struggling defensive line.

While sitting in the linebackers' meeting room, one room away from the defensive line's room, Mathias Kiwanuka knew who was in the house.

"We heard him," Kiwanuka said. "I just heard his tone. It was Strahan's tone: loud, passionate, boisterous, very passionate about what he is saying. There is only one room between us, so you could hear it."

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said, "He wasn't angry ... but we got the message."

Perhaps this is what the Giants' pass rush needed, an injection of Strahan.

The Giants' former sack master has spoken to his old team before and gotten results. Last year, Strahan met with the defense after the Giants had dropped two straight early in the season and surrendered a total of 67 points to the Colts and Titans. After the Strahan pep talk, the Giants responded by dominating the Bears in a game in which they had 10 sacks and knocked out two quarterbacks.

Now Strahan decided to pay a visit to the Giants after Tom Coughlin's team dropped three straight, including a 49-24 rout at the hands of the Saints on Monday night.

After having five sacks against Miami in a game at the end of October, the Giants' pass rush has manufactured a total of five sacks in their last four games and just one coming in the last two. On Sunday, they will have to find a way to slow down Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers without Osi Umenyiora, who is sidelined by a sprained ankle.

Several Giants said Strahan repeated things to them that they had already gone over with their coaches. Nevertheless, hearing it from Strahan -- in his unique, personable fashion -- can only help.

"It really wasn't like he gave us some secret," defensive end Dave Tollefson said. "He wasn't upset with us or anything like that. [But] he could tell me how to iron clothes and I will probably iron it to how he says it. The guy demands respect and he has always been like that, and you give it to him."

Strahan hit several points during his talk with the defensive line, and it was good for some of the younger players in the room who did not play when Strahan was a Giant.

"There are some new guys in there that never met him, and I think [rookie Justin] Trattou fell in love," Tollefson cracked.

The Giants could use Strahan and that terrific 2007 Super Bowl-winning pass rush against a Green Bay offense that has been virtually unstoppable, averaging a league-best 34.7 points per game. If the Giants are going to have any shot of an upset, they must put pressure on Rodgers.

Perhaps getting some pressure from Strahan will help.

"It always does," Kiwanuka said of Strahan's message carrying over to the field. "He is a guy who comes in and has credibility because he not only played in the league for a long time and all the records he broke, but he did it here. A lot of people don't understand what it means to do great or to do bad things in New York, and he gets it. He has been through every situation that we are facing. Young guys automatically respond to a guy like that."

But the Giants admit that if they need a pep talk to get them ready to play against unbeaten Green Bay, they could be in for a long Sunday.

"There really is not much to say," Tollefson said. "I would love to give you a story that he came in and we are going to rally around Michael Strahan's speech. He had some good stuff to say that was great to hear from a guy that you have so much respect for."

"We got to make chicken salad out of chicken you-know-what now," Tollefson said of finding a way to beat Green Bay. "We got to make something happen because if we just wait around for it, it is not going to happen."