EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.** – So, Andrew Robustelli, when did you become a Giants fan?
"I was a Giants fan out of the womb," Robustelli said today.
That's understandable. Robustelli, a wide receiver who is trying out at the Giants' rookie minicamp, is the grandson of Andy Robustelli, a Hall of Fame defensive end who played for the team from 1956-64.
Painted high on the walls in the Giants' locker room in the Quest Diagnostics Training Center are the names of the franchise's greatest and most influential figures. Not coincidentally, young Robustelli's gear was placed in a locker just below his grandfather's name.
"Just to get this opportunity and my grandfather being who he was, it is definitely an honor just to be in this locker room, especially when you look up and see his name inside here," he said. "It is really truly amazing and something that I really can't understand. I was really young and didn't know that well, but obviously he was a great man and did great things and this is a great opportunity."
Robustelli said he was not particularly close to his famous grandfather. His father was the eighth of nine children, his family moved from Connecticut to Florida when he was 10 and he was a senior in high school when Andy Robustelli passed away on May 31, 2011.
"We would go visit for a week or a couple weeks at a time and we would be back down (to Florida)," he said. "I was aware (of his grandfather's career), but as a little kid, you don't know how many great things he really did. I knew, but I didn't really realize how great it was."
Andy Robustelli is routinely included with the likes of Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson when the greatest Giants defensive players are discussed. Tom Coughlin is always mindful of Giants tradition and he took advantage of this minicamp to indoctrinate a new group of young players.
"I am not exactly sure the other kids knew who Andy Robustelli was, but the defensive group has been doing a good job with reaching back into time to understand the tradition of the New York Giant defense," Coughlin said. "Andy Robustelli was brought up last night and again this morning, so they will be educated before they leave here."
Young Robustelli is a 6-3, 209-pounder from Jacksonville University who caught 104 passes and scored 23 touchdowns in 40 career games.
New York Giants Hall of Fame defensive end Andy Robustelli
He is one of seven receivers trying out in the minicamp.
"I am a bigger wide receiver, so I use the assets that I have," Robustelli said. "I am not the fastest wide receiver out there. I think I have good speed. I am just going to use everything I can to help me out. Whatever happens, happens. I am just thankful for the opportunity. I am just doing the best I can do, and hopefully at the end of the day, I did all I can do and they saw something in me to get past the next level."
"It is just amazing to have the opportunity. Of course, with the rich history with my grandfather, it is definitely very hard of an expectation to try to live up to, but I am just enjoying it. Just getting the opportunity is great. Whatever happens from here, I am doing something that not many people can do, so I am just enjoying it as I go."
Coughlin was asked his goals for the minicamp.
"There are a couple of them," he said. "You would like to take the draft choices and college free agents that have been signed and accelerate their learning. Throw a lot at them and see how they handle it. For the invited players, you are evaluating. You are trying to see if they can help you and what capacity they might help you versus some of the opportunities you have here. You have a lot of things in mind for this."
- Bennett Jackson, who was drafted as a cornerback last year, is playing safety. He spent his first season with the team on injured reserve.
"At the end of the day, I am a (defensive back)," Jackson said. "I think my strengths are my cover skills. I have good speed and great ball skills. The thing that it is going to take for me to get out there and make an impact is I have to learn the defense and communicate the calls fluently. That is really the main thing with learning a new defense, you just have to be accountable and allow people to trust that you are going to be out there and get the job done."
"It is all in front of him," Coughlin said. "We think he can cover. He has done a good job of getting us lined up and then we will see how he plays." * The Giants announced they have signed their third-round draft choice, UCLA defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa. Three of the Giants' six draft choices have signed their contracts.
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