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For the past couple of weeks, Justin Tuck has seen a different Prince Amukamara from the one who struggled a bit as a first-round pick last season.The cornerback's confidence has been growing. Although the New York Giants' veterans would still like to see Amukamara develop more of a swagger and an edge, Tuck sees a cornerback becoming more confident with each week that passes.
"You would like to see him be a little bit more vocal, (with) a little bit more, as the young kids say, 'swag,'" Tuck said. "But I think Prince is doing a great job in doing well with what we're throwing at him. With T-2 (Terrell Thomas) being out right now, a lot of the pressure is on him."
|Prince Amukamara ascended to the first unit when Terrell Thomas reinjured his knee.|
On Friday night against the Chicago Bears, the Giants will get their longest and last significant look at Amukamara as their starting cornerback. The Giants play their starters the most in the third preseason game and this will be Amukamara's most important dress rehearsal for the season opener.
Amukamara, 23, has already been in the spotlight this week. A video surfaced of Jason Pierre-Paul dunking Amukamara headfirst into a rubber ice tub, a prank that took place weeks ago in training camp in Albany. The video, which went viral after punter Steve Weatherford tweeted it, drew mixed reaction, especially after seeing Amukamara's sour reaction upon emerging from the icy water.
There was speculation that Amukamara has been the subject of pranks not only because he was a rookie last season but also because players wanted to see him develop more of an edge.
"I do get told that cornerbacks are just supposed to have the most swag and a lot of confidence," the soft-spoken Amukamara said. "I think that just develops through your play. I mean, if you make plays, the more confidence you get."
So does Amukamara have enough swagger to start in place of the injured Thomas?
"I think I have it," Amukamara said. "I probably don't show it on the outside, but I think my play shows it the most."
Amukamara's confidence might have taken a hit after he broke his foot last year and missed half of his rookie season. He came back without the benefit of a normal offseason full of coaching and training because of the lockout, and he was overwhelmed toward the end of last season.
This year, he returned with a full offseason of coaching and has shown flashes in camp. In the preseason opener, Amukamara struggled on the Jaguars' opening drive and gave up a touchdown catch. But on the next defensive series, he forced a fumble.
In practice, he has also begun to show the veterans something they had been hoping to see.
"It just seems like he's had probably the best string of practices over the last two weeks that I've seen," Tuck said. "And a lot of that has to do with his confidence level. And as it continues to grow, I think he's going to continue to grow as a football player."
Tuck doesn't want to place any more pressure on the second-year cornerback than there already is. Slated to start opposite Corey Webster, Amukamara is going to see plenty of action this season as quarterbacks will try to test him.
"He knows it's a lot of responsibilities for him, a lot of pressure on him to play well," Tuck said. "I think he's handled it pretty well."
Amukamara's progress continues Friday night, when he hopes to show what he can do as a starter. Amukamara says he wants to work more on his press technique and getting his reads down faster against Chicago and Jay Cutler.
"I thought my physical play was great," Amukamara said of his most recent preseason game, against the Jets. "I thought it was pretty aggressive. I didn't see a lot of action, but I'll probably see a lot of action this week."
He added: "I've been preparing for every preseason game as a regular-season game. I'm just taking every practice here and my film study seriously."
The Giants hope more confidence and swagger will come with that as well.