Osi Umenyiora gave more than his share of “no comments” to an assortment of questions, most of them regarding his future with the Giants. But he also said some revealing things as we were able to meet up with him for the first time since his foot-stomping performances on Radio Row in the week leading up to the Super Bowl.
Umenyiora was, in fact, wearing a smile for most of the interview as Tom Coughlin suggested in his comments on Tuesday morning. But it was a Pagliacci grin.
“I think for the most part, I can’t sit over here and give you the robotical, mundane answers,” he said when questioned about the true meaning behind those deflective no-comment answers. “If you ask me a question, I really feel like I’m going to say exactly how I feel. Saying how I feel is really a foolish thing, to come out and say what I feel publicly. It’s gotten me in a lot of trouble with the team. It’s gotten me in a lot of trouble with the fans. And I think it’s setting a bad example for my teammates. I think it’s not the right thing to do.”
He also said he will not allow himself to be a distraction.
“I’ll never be a problem here,” he said. “I can’t see myself doing that. I have too much respect for the organization. I love my teammates. I feel like they deserve better than that. I feel like they deserve better than me coming out and speaking out like that. I think it’s best to move on like that.”
Besides that, Umenyiora was very honest about his performance last year when he was coming off major knee surgery.
“I thought I was 100 percent last year, but only until about a month ago when I was outside doing some pass rush drills, I was like ‘Now I’m really 100 percent,’” he said. “I felt strong. My legs felt a lot stronger than they did last year. Mentally you can tell yourself a lot of things and last year I was telling myself I was 100 percent when in actuality I don’t think I was.”
And on the troubles he and the defense had: “I saw a lot of things with our entire defense that went wrong. I saw the same things last year that I saw before last year (while watching tape of himself). Even though I play pretty well against the run, I’m a pass rusher. That’s what I do best. That’s what I’ve always done best. Last year as a defense we didn’t play well at all and some of the weaknesses that I do have against the run were exposed and people looked at that. I don’t think I played that much worse than I did last year, but obviously there are a whole bunch of things that I need to get better at. Without question.”
Osi was asked about his threat to retire if he was faced with another season of coming off the bench: “I say a lot of things man. I remember a couple of years ago I told my ex-girlfriend I was a virgin while holding my son. I’ve said a lot of things in my life. I don’t know.”
And he also spoke about new Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.
“He’s a really cool guy, very energetic,” he said. “I liked him a lot. I think the scheme that he’s trying to run best suits the players that we have over here so I’m looking forward to that. I think it’s going to be good.”
“I think it’s a good scheme for me,” he added. “I went back and I watched the 2009 Buffalo defense and I watched how their defensive ends played. They get a little wider and the come up the field, that’s what they do, and I think that’s what I’ll be able to excel at.”
He was also relieved to note that Fewell did not do any zone blitzing and dropping his defensive ends into coverage. The smile when he said that part was definitely genuine.