FOUR DOWNS WITH ...
1. You’re having fun with your new jersey number (No. 93),
Got to. That’s the only number I’ve got. Might as well own it.
It doesn’t look too bad out there when I saw it on film. I got something (a
license plate with 93 on it) but we didn’t get announced or anything so I didn’t
get a chance to come out with it. But after the interception, I brushed my
jersey to let them know this is the new 93 right here. Aaron Rodgers was
probably the only one to joke about it, like, “Who the heck are you?”
2. He said that?
Yeah, he said, “You were hiding from me.
I didn’t know who that 93 was.” I’ve known him for a while. He was in Green Bay
with (former Giants OL) Grey Ruegamer and Grey was his center for the
second-string offense, so I’ve met him at a few charity events. On the
interception, I don’t think he saw me because I didn’t see him. I saw him
leaning and all I saw was the arm come over the top and then the ball.
3. You left your wife back in Ohio with your two kids. Did she get to
watch the game and see your interception?
She got to watch some of
it whenever the kids would let her. She did get to see the interception. She
liked it, obviously. She’s proud of me. She told me that and she knew I could do
it. Just the same thing I’ve been saying: a matter of getting the opportunity. I
play on adrenaline every week, so that wasn’t anything new for me. That’s how I
play anyway. I play emotionally.
4. What has been your favorite moment since
you came back?
Shoot, probably just walking in the locker room
the first time. I was here early, and they would come in and see me here and
were happy to see me. That was the best part, the welcome back. When I was here
early in the season working out, it definitely felt kind of weird. I was working
out for everyone in the front office, me and Kawika (Mitchell). It was a weird
feeling but also a comfortable feeling. I was just hoping to be here earlier. I
want to prove it was a mistake I wasn’t here sooner.
ONE MORE THING ...
With Kenny Phillips out, expect the Giants to turn to Tyler Sash to help out
at safety. Sash played some last week against the Packers and said he made all
of the right calls when he was in there. He said he also made the proper
adjustments earlier in the season when he played against the Redskins, so the
mental part of the game hasn’t been a problem for the rookie. Time to see if he
can hang physically."
GIANTS' LINVAL JSEPH MAKING AN IMPACT AS HE LEARNS TO LISTEN
Excerpt: "Last Monday, less than 24 hours after posting the breakout performance of his
brief career in an otherwise painful 38-35
loss to the Green Bay Packers
, Linval Joseph sent a text message to fellow
defensive tackle and locker room neighbor Jimmy Kennedy.
“Thanks for yesterday. You helped bring the best out of me,” Joseph
“Keep it up, your future’s bright,” Kennedy responded.
The gesture was out of appreciation for the heavy dose of advice throughout
the game from the nine-year veteran Kennedy. On the sideline, Kennedy shared
everything from tips the Packers’ offensive linemen gave away with their stances
to adjustments Joseph needed to make to counter Green Bay’s changing
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve been trying to help him with his game,” Kennedy
said. “I let him know all the things I’ve been through and the things that are
going to help him. I told him, ‘Listen to me today and you’ll have an all-star
day.’ He listened, he did it and he looked all-world out there.”
And then there were the constant reminders to “stop the run, stop the run,
stop the run” from Giants
Coughlin every time the two met in the hallways during the week.
Joseph, the second-year defensive tackle, helped with that — the Packers were
held to 89 yards on 28 carries — and more. Joseph had the best game of his
career, recording a game- and career-high nine tackles, the culmination of
steady progress and simply listening.
“At the beginning of the season, he didn’t listen to me as much,” Kennedy
said. “He trusts my word now but before he found himself saying, ‘I should’ve
listened to you, maaaan. I should’ve listened to you, maaaan. I should’ve
listened to you.’ Before you know it, he’s just like, ‘You know what? I’m just
going to listen to you.’”
Teammates say Joseph, 23, can still better utilize his “oxlike” strength on
the field with improved technique, but he continues to take strides and will
play a substantial role when the Giants attempt to halt a four-game losing
streak against the Dallas Cowboys tonight at Cowboys Stadium.
Joseph’s strength and ears have helped during his rapid ascension to starter
and vital cog in the Giants defense. After appearing in just six games his
rookie season, the
Washington Redskins outbid the Giants for Barry Cofield
, placing the
spotlight on Joseph and rookie Marvin Austin on the interior, alongside
incumbent starter Chris Canty.
But Austin’s season was wiped out by an injury in the preseason, and Joseph
has started all but one game this season.
“They showed they trusted me enough to make the move and they expect a lot of
good things out of me,” the soft-spoken Joseph said.
During the NFL lockout this past summer, Joseph spent his days at home in
Gainesville, Fla., riding a stationary bike at six in the morning before his
first workout session. He would get back on the bike in the afternoon before a
second workout. The schedule — mixed with some fishing on the side — became his
That discipline goes back to his high school days as a two-way star and state
weightlifting champion at Santa Fe High School through his three years at East
Joseph moved to Gainesville from St. Croix with his mother, Ernestine, a
native of Gainesville, and his brother, Isaac, when he was 10 years old.
Tall and lanky as a youngster, Joseph grew up playing soccer on the Virgin
Islands and took to basketball when he arrived in Florida. But within a couple
years in the United States, he began filling out.
“The first time I shook his hand I told his mom, ‘This kid’s going to be a
great football player,’” said Bill Dilling, a family friend and mentor who would
take Joseph and his brother to University of Florida basketball games.
Soon enough, Joseph was starring on the football field on the offensive and
defensive lines at Santa Fe, which he attended for its agricultural magnet
program despite being a two-hour bus ride away.
His commitment to football was apparent from the outset. Joseph began high
school getting picked on for how weak he was, so he took to the weight room.
There, he cultivated the brute strength to become a standout Division 1 recruit
and a state weightlifting champion, bench-pressing 500 pounds at his high school
By his sophomore year in 2005 he had verbally committed to hometown
University of Florida as an offensive lineman, though he hoped to eventually
move to defense. Everything seemed to go as planned. He was a football star
going to play at his dream school for Urban Meyer, who had just won his first
national title at Florida during Joseph’s senior season at Santa Fe.
But a week from signing day during his senior year, Dilling, a retired police
officer, said he escorted Meyer to his weekly radio show one day. “I asked Urban
about Linval and he said he didn’t think he was going to sign him,” Dilling
According to Joseph’s high school counselor, Ralph Aiello, Joseph met the
NCAA’s academic qualifications, but Florida claimed it didn’t believe Joseph
would be able to handle the rigors of the course work. Aiello said the athletic
department could have gone to the provost and asked for some leeway — as the
university and other institutions do for recruits — but Florida said it wouldn’t
be able to make the provision for Joseph.
Moreover, with blue-chip offensive line recruits like twins Mike and Maurkice
Pouncey — both starting centers in the NFL — coming in, Joseph was the odd man
Joseph was left scrambling with national signing day looming; few schools had
scholarships so late in the process. Luckily, East Carolina was interested after
his high school coach, Scott Pritchett, and Dilling, who attended the school,
reached out. Skip Holtz, East Carolina’s coach at the time, was aware of
Joseph’s talents after recruiting his teammate, Melvin Patterson, the year
before and had a spot scholarship available.
East Carolina’s offensive and defensive line coaches boarded a flight to
Gainesville the next day, and met with Ernestine and Dilling for lunch. Two days
later, Joseph and his mother were on the Greenville, N.C., campus. And a week
after learning he wasn’t going to Florida, Joseph was a Pirate.
“That was tough, man,” Joseph said. “They made it seem like it was my fault.
But everything happens for a reason, and I still made it.” Read more...
SULLIVAN: ROUTES OF NATIVES AUSTIN, CRUZ FINALLY CROSS TONIGHT
Excerpt: "The North Jersey football paths of Victor Cruz and Miles Austin feel so
familiar, so similar that it’s hard to believe the two haven’t taken at least
some of the same twists and turns, haven’t intersected somewhere across the past
decade. Yet even though they don’t know each other much on a personal level,
there’s little doubt they are aware of each other’s football accomplishments.
How could they not, given that both of their circuitous, unlikely routes have
ended in the same place?
Tonight, Cruz and Austin can’t miss each other.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
“We’ve never really crossed paths. We might have played each other once
somewhere along the line, but I was a few years behind. I don’t remember him too
much, but all my high school coaches knew him and talked about him,” Cruz said
this week at the Giants’ training facility. “I knew about him, knew that he went
to Monmouth and he kind of came in the same way I did. He had to work his way up
Tonight in Dallas, while the Giants are busy trying to save their season and
the Cowboys are likewise hoping to preserve theirs, a most fascinating subplot
will be played out in their respective offenses, featuring one wide receiver
(Austin) and one wide receiver from Paterson
(Cruz), neither of whom was supposed to end up
here. But drawing on the personality of the state that raised them, relying on
toughness, tenacity and of course, talent, they have not merely made it to the
NFL, but become record-setting, Pro Bowl-caliber stars.
“We have a little Jersey thing together,” Cruz said. “Definitely.”
place. Same time. Same story?
Cruz and Austin represent two of the NFL’s rarest commodities – undrafted
free agents making it big – yet are connected by more than their unexpected
ability to outrun linebackers, out-leap defensive backs and overall, outperform
more renowned teammates. They grew up only a few North Jersey borders and a few
high school seasons apart, and both managed to crash football’s most exclusive
party by way of small schools (27-year-old Austin at Monmouth and 25-year-old
Cruz at Massachusetts) and big plays.
“I think it’s the blue-collar mentality we breed here with these type of
kids,” said Steve Mucha, who in his 25th season as Garfield
’s football coach has watched Austin, Seattle’s
Luis Castillo and onetime Jet star Wayne
Garfield for the NFL. “It’s a thread you see in all of these kids. They don’t
take no for an answer. It’s just a persistence they all have. Seeing Victor’s
situation, knowing where he came from and what he’s overcome, it makes me feel
Austin is expected to return to action tonight after a month out with a
hamstring injury, bringing one more weapon for Tony Romo’s offense to unleash on
the Giants’ overmatched secondary.
“He’s a matchup problem, no doubt,” safety Antrel Rolle said. “He’s a fast
receiver and he’s a physical guy, a big guy.”
At 6 feet 2 and 215 pounds, Austin’s physical profile overshadows the 6-foot,
200-pound Cruz. Austin’s relative anonymity stemmed from the fact that he didn’t
return to football from his pee wee days until his junior year at Garfield
, when he repaid Mucha’s overlooking a rare late
arrival to school with a promise to turn his basketball/track prowess back to
the gridiron. Mucha knew what sort of athlete he was getting – “I’m not an
idiot,” he said – and before long, the coach had the answers to what sort of
competitor he was getting, too." Read more...