Giants defense: Throw out the preseason opener, please
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -With Michael Strahan still nowhere in sight, the New York Giants defense is looking for a second chance after botching its first preseason game without the holdout Pro Bowler.
Under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the defense gave up three long scoring drives in the first half, and it opened the second by surrendering an 85-yard scoring pass play in a 24-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night.
More than a few fans had to think the defense was ``horrible.''
``That's just crazy for anyone to say we're horrible right now,'' defensive end Osi Umenyiora said Monday before the Giants practiced at the University at Albany.
``After the game I was like: 'Wow, that doesn't bode too well for what we are trying to accomplish,''' Umenyiora said. ``But after watching the tape and seeing what happened, it was just little, little mistakes that you have to correct. A little mistake will cost you 50 or 60 yards.''
Umenyiora predicted that the Giants would get things fixed before the season opener against the Cowboys in Dallas on Sept. 9.
By that point, the Giants should know whether the 35-year-old Strahan will be returning for a 15th NFL season or relaxing in retirement.
His holdout entered its 18th day on Monday with no end in sight.
``Nothing new,'' Tony Agnone, Strahan's agent, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press late Sunday evening. He did not know if Strahan watched Saturday's game.
One thing that was obvious was that the Panthers knew Strahan was not at his normal left end position, which was manned by William Joseph. They ran that way several times for big gains.
``It had absolutely nothing to do with Michael,'' Umenyiora said. ``Willy Jo was doing what he was supposed to do. We just made a couple of mistakes, period. If Michael was there or not, I don't think it would have done anything.''
Pro Bowl linebacker Antonio Pierce reminded everyone that it was just the first preseason game. He said the Giants didn't have a big game plan, they were facing a new Carolina offense and they made mistakes. - ``I am not going to judge our whole preseason by what we did in 13 plays,'' Pierce said.
Mathias Kiwanuka, who is making the transition from defensive end to linebacker, was upbeat about his performance despite overrunning a couple of plays, giving Carolina big runs.
``Your instinct is to go get the ball,'' said Kiwanuka, who played about 25 snaps. ``You have to realize you have to patient. There are a lot of rules for each position and you have to understand what they are.''
The one person who took advantage of Strahan's absence was fellow defensive end Justin Tuck. He had two tackles in 13 plays in his first game action since being sidelined last season with a major foot injury.
``I'm not surprised, but I definitely feel like I have a long way to go,'' Tuck said Monday. ``I don't feel like my endurance is where it needs to be, so I'm working at that. My foot felt pretty good.''
That's good for the Giants, especially if Strahan decides to retire.
``Michael is handling his own situation,'' Tuck said. ``Like I said before, if he comes, that definitely helps our team. If not, we are preparing like he is not going to be here.''
Spagnuolo was not available for comment on Monday, but Tuck said the coordinator was disappointed at the defensive meeting as the Giants began to prepare for Sunday's game against Baltimore.
``We're not in panic mode or anything like that,'' Tuck said. ``We not pleased how we played, regardless of the first preseason game. We'll just come out here today and do all the corrections and try to get better and get ready for Baltimore.''