For most of the early part of his career, Will Beatty measured his success by how well he performed against one player.
"Coming in, Osi was a guy that I was practicing against," the Giants' left tackle said Monday regarding the "years of reps" he took against Osi Umenyiora in training camp and daily practices. "He was a guy that, if you can pass block him, you knew that there's nobody that could beat you outside on the edge because of his speed and what he's shown."
On Sunday, Beatty will once again face Umenyiora. This time, it will be in a game. The former Giants Pro Bowler is now a defensive end for the Falcons, used primarily as a pass-rush specialist, and Beatty said he wants to express his gratitude to him in a way only football players can. "Having him work with me and now having the chance to go against him, it's, 'Let me thank you for all you've taught me, go out there and show you what I can do,' " Beatty said. "I know he's preparing. He wants to say: 'I still have lessons to teach you.' I want to say: 'The student has become the teacher.' "
Umenyiora is in his second season with the Falcons after a rather contentious end to his career with the Giants that included contract squabbles, injuries and surgeries that were perceived to be used as power plays, and one notorious afternoon in 2009 when he walked out on the team and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan.
There were plenty of good times, too, such as the two Super Bowl wins. And the 75 career sacks, fourth-most in franchise history. He's also the link in the team's defensive lore, a lineage that goes from Lawrence Taylor to Michael Strahan, through Umenyiora to current Giants such as Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul.
"He's one of the best, man," Pierre-Paul said. "I learned from him."
This won't be the same Umenyiora that the Giants knew. He's a bit player on the defense now with six tackles in four games this year with no sacks. But he always had a way of rising up in big situations with the Giants, and they are expecting his best Sunday.
"I'm pretty sure anybody who left the Giants and got picked up on a different team expects to play good against them," Pierre-Paul said. "It's just how it is. I know he's going to be fired up. It's going to be exciting to see him get off the ball again."
Pierre-Paul said he thought Umeniyiora would probably get a sack against the Giants. "Hopefully, he doesn't get there, but knowing him, he's going to get there," he said.
The player standing in his way will be Beatty, who is returning to 2012 form after a disappointing 2013 season and appears to have put behind him the leg injury that he spent the offseason rehabbing.
Beatty said he hasn't had much contact with Umenyiora since they parted ways. He said he might reach out to his old teammate this week, though.
"I'll tweet him, 'I'm coming,' " Beatty said. "Or 'Welcome home,' I should say."
Notes & quotes: LB Jon Beason, who missed the last two games with a foot/toe injury, practiced. "He seemed to be OK," Tom Coughlin said. Fellow LB Devon Kennard (hamstring) did not practice, but Coughlin said he is "getting better" . . . CB Jayron Hosley returned to practice after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. The Giants have a one-week roster exemption for him. "I'm healthy, I feel strong," he said. "I'm focused, so I'm ready to go."