CB Prince Amukamara earning his role

Posted Aug 22, 2012

CB Prince Amukamara will start at corner when the Giants open their regular season.

Prince Amukamara said all spring that he expected to contend for the Giants’ starting right cornerback job. Then Terrell Thomas re-injured his knee and Amukamara’s primary competition for the position was sidelined indefinitely.

Amukamara started the first two preseason games, he’ll line up with the first team Friday night vs. Chicago and barring an unexpected event, will start at corner when the Giants open their 2012 regular season two weeks from tonight against the Dallas Cowboys.

Given all that, Amukamara was asked today if he feels secure that the job is his.

“I’m still not comfortable,” said Amukamara, the Giants’ first-round draft choice in 2011. “There are a lot of plays that I feel like that need to be made. I’m always going to stay hungry. There are a lot of guys who have been doing great, like Jayron Hosley just with that play (a 77-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Jets) and Justin Tryon making plays, so I have to continue to make plays and continue to show the coaches that I can be trusted and my teammates, the other 10 guys that are out there. That’s most important to me.”

In two games, Amukamara has four solo tackles. He has yet to knock down a pass and he’s been beaten for some completions, most visibly a 29-yarder from Blaine Gabbert to Mike Thomas in the opener at Jacksonville. But he is developing the sort memory that is essential for all successful cornerbacks.

“That’s by the help of Webby (left cornerback Corey Webster),” Amukamara said. “I’m sure he’s experienced that a lot and he’s just been telling me just the type of mindset to have.”

Amukamara played the entire first half with the other starters in a 26-3 victory over the Jets last Saturday. He was credited with two tackles and was part of a defense that did not allow a play longer than 17 yards.

“I thought my physical play was great,” Amukamara said. “I thought it was pretty aggressive. I didn’t see a lot of action, but I’ll probably see a lot of action this week. There are a couple of things that I can improve on, that my coach pointed out to me. I’ve been focusing on that at practice.” Asked specifically what they were, Amukamara said, “Press technique, or just getting my reads down faster.”

Amukamara is still trying to make up for the time he lost as a rookie, when a broken foot cost him all of training camp and the first nine games of the season. He returned to play the final seven games and all four postseason games, experience he said was invaluable for his development and confidence.

“Just playing in the third and fourth quarters in the Super Bowl definitely showed that the club trusted me, because I think there were other guys that they could put out there,” Amukamara said.

Amukamara missed several of the organized team activities in the spring while he strengthened his foot. But he is pleased with the improvement he’s made since he began practicing regularly.

“I think I definitely have been making strides and the coaches have been assuring me of that also,” he said.

Amukamara knows he will always be subjected to intense scrutiny, not by virtue of playing cornerback, but because he was the 19th overall selection in the draft. “First-round draft choice” is not a label that is easily shed. But Amukamara insists he wears the tag without pressure.

“Because when you get drafted in the first round, the organization that’s drafting you is sending you a message and they have certain expectations for you,” he said. “Not only do you have to live up to those expectations, I think the person has to live up to his own expectations, too. I think the first round pick has more of a chip on their shoulders. Once you’re a first round pick, there are expectations.”

Amukamara is confident he can meet those expectations.

“And exceed them,” he said.