Osi Umenyiora: Health makes the difference

Now healthy, Osi Umenyiora could prove to be

Now healthy, Osi Umenyiora could prove to be a big factor against Green Bay. (undated file photo) (Credit: David Pokress)

Osi Umenyiora seemed offended by the suggestion that he is playing at a level he was at earlier in his career, when he was a Pro Bowl defensive end.

"I never left, man," Umenyiora said Thursday. "I never did. I was just hurt. People forget things. But I didn't forget. I feel like I've been when I wasn't hurt."

He's been back from an ankle sprain for two weeks and has three sacks, including one on the final defensive play against the Falcons last Sunday. Just when people were starting to expect the Old Osi (as in the player who has had multiple leg surgeries and turned 30 two months ago), he brought back the Old Osi (as in the guy who pressures quarterbacks).

"I feel good," he said. "A lot of the things I've been going through are feeling pretty good. I went to see my own doctor and he definitely took care of me along with Ronnie Barnes and Dr. [Russ] Warren. All those guys. Everybody came together and they've done a good job, so I'm feeling pretty good."

He's also one of the reasons the Giants are so confident about playing the Packers. They lost to Green Bay, 38-35, on Dec. 4 in a game in which Umenyiora did not play.

Umenyiora deflected credit for the defense making a turnaround in recent weeks. "I guess that would be a logical explanation, but I don't think that's the case at all," he said. "I can't attribute that success to me. I think for some reason everything is coming together at the right time now."

Weatherford defends Sanchez

Steve Weatherford is getting ready to face the Packers, but it's been impossible for him to ignore the turmoil that has gripped his former team, the Jets.

"I still have a lot of dear friends on that team," the punter said. "I'm good friends with Mark [Sanchez] and I think he's unjustly being attacked within the media. But that's what's going to happen. It's New York. They expect you to win a Super Bowl every year and if you don't, then you ----."

Weatherford has played in the last two AFC title games with the Jets. A win Sunday would bring him to that level in the NFC with the Giants. "I think there's a little bit of a different mentality here," he said. "Not that the one that Rex [Ryan] has there is wrong. It's just different . . . We're less -- again, not that Rex is wrong -- but we're less talk and more action, and we kind of like being the underdog and flying below the radar here."

Giant steps

CB Corey Webster (hamstring) and S Deon Grant (quadriceps) were limited in practice. Tom Coughlin said it was "just so we don't get any issues." . . . RB D.J. Ware (concussion) was cleared and returned to practice but was limited . . . WR Victor Cruz said the wide receivers will not wear sleeves in Green Bay. They instituted a "no-sleeve" rule after the Redskins game in December when they felt the chilly weather affected their play.

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