Osi Umenyiora is a happy camper.
Which he insists is not a new condition.
After conversations that began with the conclusion of the lockout last year, Umenyiora and the Giants last week agreed to a restructuring of his 2012 contract. Umenyiora was at the Timex Performance Center today and was on the field for the Giants' organized team activity (OTA). And though he had made some pointed statements about his contract both last year and this spring, Umenyiora said they didn't reflect his state of mind.
"I don't think I was unhappy or disgruntled," he said to a large group of reporters gathered at his locker. "It definitely appeared that way but it definitely was all business. There were no hard feelings. I understood exactly what they were doing, I understood where they were coming from, and I also knew I had to do what I had to do. Now it's more of the same and I'm happy to be here; I was happy to be here last year. I love to play and I'm going to go out there and I'm going to continue to produce the way I've always done. And help this team win."
The 10-year Giant and two-time Pro Bowler is pleased to put the business of the game he loves to play behind him for now.
"It's a business,' Umenyiora said. "The older you get in this league - I know people say that as a cliché, but it's the truth. They definitely have to handle their business in a certain way. I understood exactly where they were coming from. But at the same time I still have to look out for my best interest, no matter what it is they're doing. So, I understood what they were doing. There were no hard feelings. Me and (general manager) Jerry (Reese) talked everything out. I talked to the owners, I talked to everybody and I'm just happy to be back."
Last year, Umenyiora declined the Giants' offer. He accepted the proposal last week knowing the team will soon have to compensate fellow defensive ends and Pro Bowlers Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul.
"At the end of the day, last summer was different," Umenyiora said. "What I was looking for last year and what I was looking for this year are completely different. Things change. This year there really was no way they were going to be able to give me a contract extension (that) other people (such as linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka) were able to get. Obviously, you have Justin and then you have JPP coming up. You would have had three defensive ends making a ridiculous amount of money. You put your franchise in a very bad position. So there was no way they were going to be able to give me an extension, so all we pretty much were discussing was, 'What can be done for this year?' And we'll see how things play out after this year."
In the Giants' 2011 championship season, Umenyiora had 9.0 sacks in only nine regular season games. He added 3.5 to tie Tuck for the team lead in the playoffs. So it's hardly surprising that Umenyiora wasn't the only one happy about his contract resolution. Coach Tom Coughlin was delighted to see Umenyiora back on the field today.
"Very good to have him out there," Coughlin said. "We like to have all of our guys working and practicing. But just having everybody in the meeting rooms now is a very good thing.
Coughlin said the classroom lessons Umenyiora will do before the team scatters late next week will be just as important as the physical work he does on the field.
"No question," Coughlin said. "With three OTA's and a minicamp to go, that is the most important thing. There is never any question about Osi preparation-wise. He is a tremendous studier of the opponent. He knows exactly what his thoughts are going into the game and how the game plan fits. He will always do that, but to get back into a football frame of mind – and a positive one at that – it is a very good thing."
Umenyiora admitted that he is signed only through the 2012 season. But he disagreed with the notion that this is a critical season for him because he could potentially be a free agent next February.
"I don't think I'm playing for a contract," he said. "I'm playing for fun, honestly. I'm playing because I love to play. If you go out there thinking about playing for a contract, the contract will never come. That's for sure. I've made money and I'm happy to be here. I'm happy to be around with my teammates.
"I don't know what's going to happen next year. I might have a great year and decide to stay instead, no matter what it is they offer me. You just have to play for fun and play because you love the game and that's definitely what I'm doing."
*Coughlin was asked why tackle Will Beatty has not been on the field.
"He has a bad back," Coughlin said. "That has kind of slowed him down. He is improving every day. I don't know that he will make the minicamp. But he is making good progress."
*The Giants held their sixth OTA today. They have three more this week and a full-squad minicamp next week before dispersing until training camp (and a July 26 reporting date). Coughlin was asked if anyone has stood out during the practices.
"I think there are four or five guys that have flashed that would give you some real good thoughts about how they performed out here," Coughlin said. "For example, I thought (cornerback) Michael Coe had a couple of outstanding plays – a real good interception the other day. (Wide receiver) Ramses Barden has had good flash plays out here. (Defensive end) Adrian Tracy has done the same. Those would be the guys. A lot of the rookies have – upon opportunity – maybe a flash here and a flash there. (Running back) David Wilson, with his conditioning and his quickness and speed, has been there. I'm encouraged by more and more guys that have had issues in the past – like Ahmad (Bradshaw) – he has practiced a couple of days. We have him restricted but he will take the first couple or three plays of a practice and go. And he actually looks good and he appears to be pretty comfortable. There have been a lot of those types of things."
*The Super Bowl XLVI champions will be feted at the White House on Friday.
"We are excited," Coughlin said. "It is always something that we look forward to. It is a great honor to go to the White House – to be invited by the President of the United States – to have our Super Bowl XLVI and world championship team go and be in the presence of the President and the historic White House. And I'm sure that all of our players and all of our organization will be very excited about going. We will take great memories from our opportunity to visit with the President."