Umenyiora Admits Days as Giant Likely Numbered
Defensive end Osi Umenyiora has never made any secret about the fact that he views himself as a starter in the NFL, even after ten seasons. And as his tenth season appears to be winding down to a close, he paused to reflect on what could be his final one in a Giants uniform this Sunday.
“I’m preparing myself this week to go out there and play as hard as I can,” he said when asked if he was going to prepare himself any differently. “I’m going to expect the same thing from my teammates and we’re going to go out there and win the game. We have a lot of pride and we’re going to come out there and play like it and I’m going to especially do that myself.”
But at the same time, Umenyiora admits that he’s thought about the possibility that this could be his last one as a member of the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2003 draft.
“Yeah. I definitely thought about it, but that’s pretty much out of my control at this point,” he said. “The only thing I can control is the effort I give and I’ll continue to do that, to give great effort.”
This season, Umenyiora has taken the fewest number of snaps out of the defensive end trio that also includes Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul. His stats haven’t come close to being considered premier, yet Umenyiora believes that he’s put enough on tape to convince the rest of the league that he’s still in the prime of his career.
“I definitely have some very good years left in me. I haven’t lost any explosion. I haven’t lost any speed. So as a pass rusher that’s what you need and thankfully I’ve been able to maintain that and I’m just happy about that. I’m not happy about the way the season unfolded, but I’m happy about that.”
That’s why he believes that his days with the Giants might very well be numbered.
“I’m not certain of anything at all. Is there a high probability that I’m going to be playing somewhere else? I would say there is a high probability and that’s just me being honest, but I’m not certain of what’s going to happen. Anything can happen. We can get in the playoffs. Anything is possible, but it’s a high probability that I’m going to be playing somewhere else and I think everybody knows that. Let’s don’t kid ourselves.”
The Giants are still mathematically alive for a playoff spot, but will need to stop what’s been an ugly, uninspired two-game losing streak against an Eagles team that is going to have Michael Vick back in at quarterback for the injured Nick Foles. The Giants are also going to need a lot of help from other teams if they are to clinch the final wild card spot.
But in listening to Umenyiora, it sounds almost as though he was of the opinion that he and the rest of his defensive teammates haven’t always been put in the best position to succeed this season.
“Well, we were the same positions, but we were just attacked differently,” he said. “I think when the rush was there, the coverage wasn’t there and when the coverage was there, the rush wasn’t there. So I think we weren’t married. We weren’t in synch with each other.”
And whose fault is that?
“Maybe the opponent we were playing. Maybe it’s their fault,” he said. “Maybe they figured us out pretty well. The effort was there. That’s pretty much all I can say is that we were out there hustling, we were out there trying and it just did not work out or it hasn’t worked out to this point.”
Regardless of what the future might hold, Umenyiora said that this week would be all about preparing to ensure that the Giants end their regular season on a high note.
“We just need to find a way to win this game and then all of that other stuff will take care of itself.”
And if they do manage to win and still miss the playoffs? Umenyiora, who pointed out that a team can’t always expect to win the Super Bowl every year, said he’s enjoyed his ride with the Giants, even if these last few years he’s been reduced to a situational pass rusher.
“I’m happy with the things that this team has done here and if it does, in fact, turn out to be my last game, then it’s been a wonderful, wonderful ride and I’m just going to walk around in New York with my head held high because it’s been a great accomplishment playing for this organization and being able to do some of the things that we accomplished here as a team.”