Has the dark cloud over Osi Umenyiora lifted? He says it has, and he certainly looked energized and enthused on the field on Saturday against the Steelers when he made two nice stops against the run. Even Tom Coughlin noted how Umenyiora has had a good attitude about his competition with Mathias Kiwanuka at defensive end. “It’s very good for our team,” Coughlin said of the way the two have handled their showdown.
“I’m happy,” Umenyiora said. “I’m just happy to be around everybody. I love the guys, I love this team, and any time I get a chance to do what I love to do I’m happy and having fun.”
Not to get too analytical here, but Osi didn’t sound happy. There was no smile, he spoke in a soft monotone. Maybe he was just unhappy to see us, the media. Maybe he was just in a quiet mood today. Who knows.
He did say that he’s feeling fine physically. “I have to get my timing back on a couple of things,” he said, “but I feel good.”
He also refrained from saying that he was ready to regain his spot among the top defensive ends in the NFL, a goal he stated during the offseason.
“We’ll just wait and see,” he said. “You can never really tell. I felt that way last year. Anything can happen. I just want to go out there and play.”
Osi said he didn’t get any extra satisfaction out of those stops he made Saturday, particularly since it was his play against the run last year that lead to him losing his job as a starter.
“It’s just something I’ve been working on, something I need to get better at,” he said of his run defense. “I’m not where I need to be but I can get there. Everybody just needs to keep on working and focus on what we’re focusing on and we’ll be all right.”
By the way, Coughlin said that he considers both Kiwanuka and Umenyiora to be starters. Only one can actually start, of course, but they’ll be in a strong rotation. Plus, with all of the schemes and lineups that Perry Fewell has at his disposal, there’s a chance they’ll be on the field with each other a bit too.
“They’re both playing well,” Coughlin said. “They’re both doing everything we ask them to do and they’re making good progress so those things (starting) will take care of themselves. But they’re two of our better football players, I’ll tell you that right now. They’re outstanding.”
For the record, when the first defensive unit was on the field today during practice against the scout team, Kiwanuka was with them and Umenyiora was on the side.