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Osi committed to Giants, but wants changes

Osi Umenyiora says he loves the Giants, but

Osi Umenyiora says he loves the Giants, but he doesn't want to be just a role player. Credit: David Pokress

Osi Umenyiora wants to be back with the Giants next year. But he apparently has a list of conditions.

"I love this team," Umenyiora said Wednesday, his first public remarks since an outburst on Sunday following the 41-9 loss to the Panthers in which he speculated that his career with the Giants might be coming to an end.

"I've spent the last seven years of my life here. I have a bunch of great friends here. I'd love to be here. But the situation cannot continue the way it is.

"I think definitely some things are going to be changed," he said. "I'm all in, but I think I'm too good of a player for this kind of a situation."

That situation is a third-down pass rusher who stands on the sideline when the team is in its base defense or playing against the run. That was the reason Tom Coughlin gave for Umenyiora playing only 14 snaps on defense Sunday - the Panthers and their commitment to running the ball - and that was apparently the reason Umenyiora was demoted following the team's loss to the Broncos in November.

"I'm not a third-down player, I'm not a third-down rusher," Umenyiora said. "I can play the run and I've played the run this year. I think I had a bad game against Denver, a bad quarter against Denver, and things kind of snowballed from there. In actuality, who on this team has played excellent every single game? Things happen. I cannot take that away from myself, that they say I'm only in on third down and I can't play the run. That's absolute B.S. because I can and the film is there to prove it."

Umenyiora went further, saying that he's paid too much money to be used in such a limited capacity.

"I don't think that they can continue to pay me just to do that," he said. "Whatever happens, I hope I'm here. I'd love to be here. I'm definitely under contract here. I can't really tell you I'm going anywhere. It's all in their hands."

It's been a turbulent year for Umenyiora, who came back after missing all of last season with knee surgery. Just before the season began he walked out of the team's training complex after an apparent disagreement with new defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan. Then on Sunday, after playing such a limited role, he voiced his displeasure with his playing time.

"I'm a great competitor and I'm a man of great pride, so it's been difficult," Umenyiora said of the season, particularly the last several weeks as a backup. "It's been rough. But I've tried to keep my mouth quiet and keep my head down and do everything that's been asked of me. Unfortunately I let my emotions get the best of me on Sunday and I just said some things that I shouldn't have said. But it is what it is and we'll move on from there."

Umenyiora said the knee surgery has not slowed him down this year.

"I'm not sure what tape everybody else has been watching," he said. "I'm just as explosive. I'm still the same player that I was . . . I don't look at myself and see any difference in the player that I was before and I think anybody who actually knows about football and watches football would say the same thing."

Umenyiora said he understood that things had to change after the loss to Denver, however.

"I won't say I was singled out, but I think things needed to be changed at that point and time, they needed to shake some things up because we obviously couldn't continue going the way we were going," he said. "Me, Fred [Robbins] and Chase [Blackburn] were the people who took the fall for that."

Those three were replaced in the starting lineup the following week. And the run defense showed definite improvement in the next three games with a rejiggered lineup. On Sunday, though, the Giants allowed 247 rushing yards, 206 of them to Jonathan Stewart.

Umenyiora would not call for Sheridan to be fired, an event many expect will transpire next week.

"He's done an admirable job in my book." Umenyiora said, "but whatever happens, happens."

He does, however, think the relationship between he and the Giants can be rectified with changes. A change in defensive coordinators may be one of those stipulations.

"As soon as we're done with the Minnesota game, I promise you it'll take care of itself," Umenyiora said. "As soon as this game is over with, we'll go from there."

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