Monday, August 13, 2012
Giants focused on own team
By Jane McManus ESPNNewYork.com
ALBANY, N.Y. -- After being asked about the Wildcat, Tebow-mania and the last time they played the New York Jets in the regular season, New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck had finally had enough.
"That's what we're doing this session?" Tuck bristled. "The last time I checked I play for the Giants and I've only heard one question about the Giants. I really don't want to talk about the Jets."
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Still, he might have expected the questions. The Giants will play the Jets on Saturday at MetLife Stadium, which will technically be a home game for the Jets even though the teams share the stadium.
"Us playing them -- unless it's like a Super Bowl game it's really not a very big deal," defensive end Osi Umenyiora said.
Particularly in the preseason. Traditionally these two teams have met in the third game of the preseason, when teams play their starters longer than a quarter.
Now that Tim Tebow is the Jets' backup quarterback, Tuck was asked if he would try to get to Tebow.
The answer: Not as much as he'll try to get to the offensive line.
"The quarterbacks are just bonus," Tuck said.
Giants rookie cornerback Jayron Hosley said he wouldn't mind getting to Tebow, one way or another.
"He's going to come down someway," Hosley said. "But I mean it's all part of the game. I'm going to try to strip the ball before I tackle him, so that's more important to me, turnovers than sacks."
Despite having won the most recent Super Bowl, the Giants already have lost the preseason battle for the back pages of the tabloids. The Jets have a full-time ESPN crew installed in Cortland, recording the team's every move. Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka was asked what it was like to live in the Jets' media shadow.
"It depends on what you call a shadow," Kiwanuka said. "In my mind, we cast a big shadow in terms of championships, win/losses and that kind of thing. If you want to talk preseason hype, talk and all that kind of stuff, it doesn't really matter for us because there's been times that we had it and didn't really perform, then times that we didn't have it and we did perform."
Steve Weatherford, the former Jets punter in his second year with the Giants, said he considers the teams rivals, although that could be because he has worn both jerseys. There was also the not insignificant matter of the Giants' 29-14 win over the Jets last Christmas Eve, a game that sent one team reeling while the other sailed into the postseason.
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"I think everyone knows how important that was," Weatherford said. "It was kind of what started the avalanche of wins for us. I think there was a particular play -- that 99-yard TD catch that Victor (Cruz) had -- after that play we got a burst of confidence from that and were able to parlay that into putting a lot of road wins together."
But Tuck said he thinks it wasn't so much that the win was against the Jets.
"I think a lot of people want to give it more credit than it was," Tuck said. "For me personally the Jets are just another team that we play, I don't think we have a rivalry with the Jets. I really don't. I know we have one with our division foes, but with the Jets it's just another game we need to win."
As for divisions, Jets coach Rex Ryan declared earlier in training camp that the AFC East was the best division in football. But that platform doesn't have a lot of supporters in Albany.
"Rex is a great coach, man," Umenyiora said. "He's been around the game for a long time and he's entitled to his own opinion. Obviously, you have New England in that division. You have Buffalo is an up-and-coming team, you have the Jets. The have a very good division, but the NFC East is perennially the toughest division in football and that's the way it remains this year."
Tuck has heard comments from around the NFL, implying that the Giants weren't the best team in the league even if they were the last team standing. "Some sore losers in the world, eh?" Tuck said. "Last time I checked we won the Super Bowl."
The Giants looked good in their first preseason game. Eli Manning and the first-team offense scored, unlike the Jets under starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. Tuck said they just want to spend the next preseason game focused on themselves.
"We don't get caught up with the Tebow-manias of the world," Tuck said. "I guess would be the right phrase. We worry about what goes on at Giants camp."
Which their team motto seems to most succinctly express.
"Talk is cheap, play the game."