GIANTS' MARVIN AUSTIN IS HEALTHY AND EAGER TO GET BACK ON THE FIELD AFTER BEING OFF IT FOR TWO YEARS
"December 26, 2009.
That's the last time Marvin Austin was on the field for a meaningful football
game. It was the final game of his junior season at North Carolina, a 19-17 loss
in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against Pittsburgh.
That turned out to be the defensive tackle's final game as a Tar Heel after
he was suspended for his senior season before it even started. The Giants still took him in the second round
in last year's draft. Then he tore his pectoral muscle in the Giants' second
preseason game and was placed on the injured reserve list before his rookie
season even started.
And just like that, another year without meaningful football.
"[It's] extremely tough," he said. "Just being out of football for two years
is tough in itself and I just look at it as I got a great opportunity here. I
just got to capitalize on the opportunity I have and try my best to do great
Austin says he is 100 percent healthy and eager to get on the field for a
game that matters. Barring another setback, that won't happen until Sept. 5
against the Cowboys – nearly three years after his final game at North Carolina
-- so for now, he's satisfied with just being around his teammates and being
part of a team.
"It's like a kid in the candy shop," Austin said last week during voluntary
workouts. "It's time to go out there and just to be back on the field, be back
in the weight room doing what I love is exciting."
Austin said he has a "pretty good" understanding of the defense, but admitted
not being on the field has somewhat hindered his education.
"I wouldn't say it's hard to full understand it, but when you're not playing,
it's different," he said. "It's harder to learn when you're not out there
actually going through the motions and getting the calls and getting a feel and
having the chemistry with the guys is definitely a lot harder."
like Prince Amukamara, the Giants' first-round pick last year, Austin will
have to prove his worth despite the setbacks.
Last month, general manager Jerry
Reese voiced some uncertainty about Austin in an interview with Sirius XM
“We’re worried about him a little bit,” Reese admitted. “He hasn’t played in
such a long time now. He tore his pec. He’s been out for such a long time."
Austin thinks the pressure would've been on him no matter what.
"Playing football you should always feel like you have something to prove so
I'm pretty sure every guy on the team, not just our draft class, has something
to prove," he said. "It's not a collective thing where we sat down and said,
'Our draft class, we need to do better.' It's just all of us need to step up."
GIANTS' MARTELLUS BENNETT LOOKING TO SEIZE THE MOMENT
"In his four seasons in Dallas, Martellus Bennett never hated the Giants. Or so he says.
To him, hate is a strong word. Sure, it was thrown around by players on each
side of the rivalry while he was in a Cowboys uniform – at
least one of his new teammates is guilty – but the animosity never reached
that level for the Giants' new tight end.
"I wouldn't say that I hated them," Bennett said last week. "To me it's just
playing against another team so it was easy for me to come over here and join
another organization and become part of this family.
"Some people say hate, some people do. It is what it is. It's a part of the
rivalry. When we play against the Cowboys I'll go just as hard as I did when I
played against the Giants. It's the same thing for me."
In his brief time around the Giants since he
agreed to a one-year deal with the club, Bennett said he's seen similarities
between his former and new teams.
"I think they're both first-class organizations. I think the Cowboys did
things top-of-the-line, everything they did and I think it's the same thing
here. It's easy to come in and join the same type of family so I don't think
there's a major difference.
"The only difference is they had a Super Bowl and we didn't."
The Cowboys fell victim to the Giants to end the regular season with the
division crown on the line and watched as their NFC East rivals made an
improbable run to the Super Bowl. The teams will meet again at MetLife Stadium
to begin the 2012 regular season, an encounter Bennett admitted to looking
"Yeah, it is pretty fun," he said. "I look forward to playing against the
guys. A lot of my friends are on that team. I think it'll be a great game."
As of now, Bennett is in line to be the Giants' starting tight end for that
matchup with Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard each coming off torn ACLs suffered
in Super Bowl XLVI. Beckum
may be ready for opening night, but Ballard may not see the field in 2012.
The Giants also have Bear Pascoe and Christian Hopkins on the roster, and could
also conceivably add a tight end in this weekend's draft.
Either way, Bennett hopes to take advantage of every opportunity for an
offense that has not relied on the tight end as much as other teams across the
league increasingly have. Instead, the Giants have traditionally preferred
block-first tight ends, with the occasional outlier such as Jeremy Shockey, who
is the last Giants tight end to catch at least 70 balls when he caught 74 during
his rookie season in 2002.
Bennett is known as a good blocker, but he also falls under the
basketball-player-turned-tight-end trend seen with Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates
and others. Bennett played basketball for two seasons at Texas A&M before
focusing on football and his 6-foot-6, 275-pound frame combined with his
athleticism make him a potentially dangerous target for Eli Manning.
In Dallas his playing time was limited behind perennial Pro Bowler Jason
Witten and now he envisions a chance to breakout.
"I think it's an opportunity for me to come in and earn every catch that I
get," he said. "I feel like if I come in and show them what I can do and gain
Eli's trust and maybe I can catch more balls.
"I think the opportunity's there, I just got to seize the moment. Carpe
diem."GIANTS HOSTED CLEMSON TE DWIGHT ALLEN FOR PRE-DRAFT VISIT
"Last week, we
gave you a list of players who had visited the Giants. I've since gathered a few more
names, one of which caught my eye as an interesting one: Clemson tight end
There's been much talk about the Giants' potentially drafting Stanford's Coby
Fleener with their first-round pick (No. 32 overall), but Fleener isn't a great
blocker and we know how important that is to Giants tight ends coach Mike Pope,
Fleener's workout at Stanford's pro day.
This isn't to say Pope doesn't think he could be a good blocker;
there are times when Pope sees ability that has yet to be unearthed and he's
darn good at tapping into said talent. But one scout recently told the Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel Fleener
"might be the most overrated player in the draft" and is an "awful
Contrast that description with what's often said about Allen, beginning with
the paragraph in the Journal-Sentinel right below the evaluation of Fleener. The
paper quotes a scout saying Allen is "more old-school" and a "full-time tight
end." Now that sounds like a Giants tight end to me.
According to scouting reports, Allen doesn't have elite speed but he can move
pretty well, is a good route runner, has good hands, is a hard worker and is a
good in-line blocker. Working with Pope could only help in all regards.
The 6-4, 255-pound Allen had modest numbers in his first two seasons with the
Tigers (43 receptions for 481 yards and four touchdowns combined). Last season,
he caught 50 passes for 598 yards and eight touchdowns, all of which are new
school records for a tight end. Allen decided to forgo his senior season and
enter the Draft.
Allen's name was on a list of a few more players who visited the Giants that
I received over the weekend. But no need to source it because his high school
the beans on the visit to his hometown paper, the Fayetteville (N.C.)
"He would love to go to New York," said the coach, Wayne Inman. "He would fit
in great with their offense.''
Inman is pumping up his guy, so when he says Allen probably won't be a
available when the Giants pick at No. 63, we can't take that as gospel. But if
you take a spin around some mock drafts, you'll see many have Allen off the
board at that point. In fact, ESPN's Mel Kiper went from giving
Allen to the Giants back in February to moving him up to
the Eagles at No. 51 earlier this month. Our lads at Ourlads (crickets) have Allen going to the
Giants at No. 63.
Again, we've discussed the possibility of the Giants moving back into the
second round, so perhaps he could be an option if they do fall back. Or maybe he
does make it to them at the back end of the second round. We'll see."