Prince Amukamara has been watching a lot of film from the 2013 season lately, and while the primary aim of that study has been to self-scout and improve his own skills, there’s another player who keeps jumping off the screen.
As he watched those games, he was reminded of the interceptions Hill had against Detroit and Philadelphia, the forced fumble on Pierre Garcon that clinched a win over Washington, and other key moments that Hill was part of.
“I realized how many times he saved our butts and how many times he came up big,” Amukamara said of Hill, the former Giants safety who was waived on Monday after being handed a third drug-related suspension in three seasons by the NFL. “It’s going to be a tough loss. Hopefully if he goes to a team, it’s not someone in the NFC East. He’s a guy you don’t want to face.”
Amukamara was speaking to Newsday Monday night at the annual “Forget-Me-Not” Gala hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter. Earlier in the day, he said goodbye to Hill in the Giants’ locker room.
“I just saw him with the trash bag right before we were going out to practice, so it shocked us,” Amukamara said. “He told us that he was gone, so it was tough.”
Amukamara knew that Hill was facing a third suspension, this one for six games, but he thought the Giants would still keep the talented but troubled safety on the roster.
“I know the Giants are very huge on reputation and representing the organization well,” Amukamara said. “It was tough. I figured that was an option, to cut him from the team, but I didn’t think they would. I don’t think he missed a day in meetings or showing up to OTAs or practice. I didn’t see it coming, but I definitely saw it as a possibility.”
Now it’s a reality that the Giants are going to have to deal with. While Amukamara held out hope that the Giants will re-sign Hill at some point, the likelihood of that is imperceptibly slim. Given Hill’s checkered history, it’s probably a longshot that any NFL team will sign him.
Hill figured to play a key role in the defense, especially in three-safety sets that the Giants are fond of using. Hill’s speed and athleticism would have been key to facing teams in the division like the Eagles (with LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles in the backfield) and Washington (with a healthy Robert Griffin III at quarterback). They’ll have to figure out other ways to stop those offenses.
“It’s going to be tough to fill his shoes because he brought so much energy on special teams and on defense,” Amukamara said. “He’ll be a hard guy to replace.”
A few other notes from Amukamara’s appearance:
He was at the “Forget-Me-Not” Gala with his wife, Pilar, whose father was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s five years ago. “I asked her if she wanted to come and she was all for it,” Amukamara said. “Just to be educated more about it and maybe find some tips on how to handle it, maybe things that we don’t know.” Other celebrities at the gala included actors David Hyde Pierce, Dominic Chianese and Victor Garber and CBS 2 medical reporter Max Gomez.
After three years of facing the same Giants offense in practices, Amukmara has an interesting perspective as the team installs it’s new offensive identity this spring. “It’s fun because they bring out a lot of different formations to line up against and, like the Packers offense, it’s more about gun-slinging and quick throws,” he said. “It’s fun for DBs. It gives us a lot of reps attacking the ball.” He said while there are similarities to the Packers, it really reminds him of the offense he practiced against when he was at Nebraska. The bottom line on the new scheme: “It looks pretty good.”
Amukamara said he understands why Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is considered the Giants’ top cornerback. But that doesn’t mean he has to like it. “It would kind of make sense,” he said. “I mean, that guy is getting paid a lot of money. It’s like them paying (Victor) Cruz a lot of money and him not being the number one receiver and them going to (Rueben) Randle.” Shortly after signing DRC, Tom Coughlin said the plan would be to have him shadow opposing teams’ top receivers. “Hopefully we get to the point where coaches say just stay right and left like how they did with me and Corey (Webster),” Amukamara said. “We’re going to face a lot of different teams that have different powers at wide receiver. Like Washington with (Pierre) Garcon and DeSean (Jackson). Or like Detroit, Calvin (Johnson) and Golden Tate. I know the Giants are going to do a good job of using both of us.” Amukamara said he tries to line up against Rodgers-Cromartie whenever the defensive backs are doing drills. “Everyone said he’s the fastest and of course, in the back of my head, him being tagged as the number one corner, I don’t have a vendetta against him, but it’s like, I’m going to try to beat him in everything,” Amukamara said. “I haven’t beaten him yet. It’s only been races and stuff like that. I just have the mentality of ‘Let’s line up again, let’s line up again.’ But he’s a freakish athlete, so it’s great to have him on our side … We’re going to make both our jobs a lot easier.”
And finally, even though his name reflects royalty, Amukamara said he's not rooting for the Kings in the Stanley Cup Final. You'll be happy to know he'll pulling for the Rangers and plans to be at one of the home games at Madison Square Garden next week.