EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When he's not on a football field, Prince Amukamara sometimes ponders how good he can be. The Giants' fifth-year man believes he can be one of the NFL's very best cornerbacks.
"I mainly think about that whenever I am watching the top guys, like the (Richard) Shermans, the (Darrelle) Revises, the (Patrick) Petersons, Joe Haden, Vontae (Davis) and (Brent) Grimes," Amukamara said today. "When I see their play, the only thing that is mostly different is the ball production. My main goal is to get my hands on as many balls as I can.
"Ball production is huge not only for me but for the team. It definitely helps me out, but in the main stream of things, it helps the team out. So any time that the DBs can get our hands on the ball, we are going to make the most of it."
Amukamara believes he will improve his chances of being mentioned with those talented players if he intercepts more passes. In his first four seasons, he had six picks, including a career-high three in 2014.
During that same time period, Sherman has 24 interceptions, Peterson (like Amukamara, a 2011 first-round draft choice) has 15, Haden has 10, Davis has 12 and Grimes has 10.
Asked if he is closer to that group than he was a year ago, Amukamara said, "without a doubt."
The reason, he said, is "Just confidence. I see myself doing stuff that I don't think I have ever done before. Just showing more emotion and just confident in what I see and what I'm doing out there."
The daily duels between Amukamara, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and the rest of the Giants' cornerbacks and the team's wide receivers have been one of the consistent highlights of the spring drills, which neared their end with the second minicamp practice today. Amukamara has gotten his hands on several balls and DRC had a sensational one-handed interception today on the sideline.
Amukamara is enjoying playing in the defense that Steve Spagnuolo has installed in his second stint as the Giants' defensive coordinator.
"It is great," Amukamara said. "We are playing a lot of man. Coach Spags loves for his corners to be aggressive and pressing a lot. That is my kind of game. We are switching it up. His M.O. is to not let the offense dictate what we are doing and we dictate to the offense. I like that. He is pretty aggressive.
"It is almost like a chess game. He is always making the more aggressive move, putting your king in the check. That is how I would describe it. He likes his corners to challenge and press receivers and that is part of my game."
Amukamara is particularly happy to be back on the field after missing the second half of the 2014 season. He tore his right biceps vs. Indianapolis on Nov. 3, underwent surgery and spent the rest of the season injured reserve.
"I have no doubts (about his arm) right now," Amukamara said. "I haven't been limited from anything. I have been doing everything this offseason. I think the biggest test is when I really try to wrap and just experience contact. My arm is being hit during camp and I don't really have a pad on it and I haven't really had any issues. I am not discouraged right now. I'm just looking forward to hit and just wrap up and see how it feels."
Amukamara played in all 16 games just once in his first four seasons, in 2013. To join the list of cornerbacks he previously mentioned, Amukamara knows he must stay on the field.
"I would always say I am ascending," he said. "The only thing that stops me is my injuries. I would definitely say I am not going backwards. I think if I was going backwards, I don't think I would still be here."
Check out photos of Prince Amukamara from the 2014 season