Under the lights. Primetime network broadcast. Running out of the tunnel with the defending champs onto the NFL stage for the first time.
In the United States, that’s a typical dream growing up.
But what about overseas?
“This kid from Germany dreamed about it, too,” said Markus Kuhn, tapping his chest with his index finger.
The expat from Weinheim, Germany and the New York Giants’ newest defensive tackle will be living that reality come Wednesday night. From starting to play football at age 15 in his home country to traveling up and down the eastern seaboard in the States with his father showing college coaches a highlight DVD, the 26-year-old rookie has more than just an extraordinary story to tell.
He has opportunity.
He also has talent, as evidenced by his inclusion on the Giants’ 53-man roster, which was finalized on Friday.
“That’s what I worked for every day, and that was definitely the goal in coming here,” the seventh-round draft pick said. “Now my next goal immediately after was to be part of the rotation or see playing time, especially with all the injuries right now. They need me to step up. I’m just excited out at practice every day. I know what I have to do in the playbook, and now it’s me going out there executing the plays.”
With Marvin Austin still not participating in practice due to a back injury and Chris Canty on the PUP list, Kuhn is it behind starters Linval Joseph and Rocky Bernard.
“I have to give Rocky or Linval a breather whenever they need it,” Kuhn said. “I’m excited to do it. There’s nothing better than starting the season playing against Dallas here at home. I’m excited as I can be.
“My dad is in town right now and we were sitting together, talking about how I imagined it six years ago in Germany and thought, ‘You know what, let’s maybe come to the U.S. and try to play some college football.’ Now I’m with the New York Giants and I’m about to play in the NFL against the Dallas Cowboys in New York.”
Yesterday defensive coordinator Perry Fewell spoke about his confidence in Kuhn, who had six tackles and a blocked pass in the preseason, and how he has no hesitation throwing him in the deep end.
“Shoot, that’s why we drafted him,” Fewell said. “He’s a New York Giant. He’s going to get his feet wet really early and, shoot, we’re going to play his butt…He’s going to get in there and mix it up. He’s not afraid to mix it up. He’s a German guy, so he doesn’t know the difference. He just says ‘I’m going to get in there and play ball.’ We’re going to play ball.”
Tags: Markus Kuhn, Rookies
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How much are you thinking about repeating as champions when the defense begins Wednesday night?
“Honestly, not that much,” Umenyiora said this morning on NFL Network’s NFL AM. “I’m not lying, I’m not lying. I’m serious. I’ve been in the league so long that I just know how difficult that is to do, and I know that if we start looking ahead to winning another Super Bowl – first of all, people are picking us to finish third or fourth in our division. So we’re not going to be sitting over here thinking we’re the best things in the world right now.
“We have a very tough schedule, the toughest schedule the NFL has ever seen probably. We just have to go out there and play it one game at a time. I know it’s a cliché…I know it is, but that’s really the way we have to look at things right now.”
And who better to lead them than Eli Manning?
Entering his 10th season, Umenyiora, a two-time All-Pro selection, arrived in New York a year before Manning did. So he’s seen the reigning Super Bowl MVP’s growth for nearly a decade.
“Obviously his maturity level, he just makes outstanding plays,” Umenyiora said. “And when it’s crunch time, he comes through. We believe in him. He believes in his teammates. He believes in his receivers, his offensive line, and he just goes out there and performs. He prepares at a high level. He’s just our leader, and he’s a great player and a great man.”
As for the other quarterback, Umenyiora was asked how many times they plan on getting to the Cowboys’ signal caller Tony Romo in the season opener.
“As many times as possible,” he said. “He has a very quick release. We know he’s not going to sit there and hold the ball. He’s going to try to get the ball out quick. The receivers are going to be running shorter routes. They’re going to throw quick passes and try to run the ball. But as many times as we can get back there. I think the key is getting back there and harassing him and pressuring him. Sacks are going to come. Sometimes they come, sometimes they don’t, but the key is getting pressure on him. And I think we’re going to try our best to do that.”
Tags: Osi Umenyiora
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Well, maybe not the most, but the 28-year-old cornerback isn’t the average player in line to make his first start in the NFL. Rather, Coe enters his sixth season in the league – third with the Giants in Perry Fewell’s system – as the likely starting second corner, given Prince Amukamara’s ankle injury and Terrell Thomas being placed on injured reserve.
But reps as a starter make your reputation in the NFL, and that’s what he doesn’t have yet. In addition to playing opposite veteran Corey Webster, that’s also why Coe won’t be surprised if Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is gunning for his side come Wednesday night.
“I’m sure that anybody that we face will try to look more at my side because Corey has the reputation he’s built up,” Coe said. “They’re always going to go after somebody new whether it be whoever is out there in the secondary. I think that gets you more ready because you know the ball is coming your way any play. So you’re always going to be ready for that.”
Originally a fifth-round draft choice by the Indianapolis Colts in 2007, Coe was waived/injured after two seasons and was picked up by the Giants in 2009, making his first (and brief) stint with the team on the practice squad. Two months later, he was signed by the Jaguars and waived the following season. The Giants claimed him shortly after in late September of 2010 and signed him to the active roster that November, where he has remained since then.
In total, he has played in 27 games, including a career-high 10 last year before a shoulder injury ended his season. At the time, Coe, primarily known for his special teams, was slowly carving out a role on defense. Coe had played extensively in the two previous games in Weeks 9 and 10 – and had a pair of tackles in each game — leading up to the second Philadelphia game at home where he suffered the injury making a tackle.
“I was a little frustrated,” Coe said about last year’s injury. “I was starting to play a lot more defensive-wise and played a lot in the game or two before that. So I was really excited about slowly working myself in there, and then to get hurt the way I did was really frustrating. Mentally, you’ve just got to stay into it the best you can. I still got the film and still watched everything to stay on top of it.”
That led Coe to the 2012 season, when at the start he was getting reps with the first team.
Somewhere in between a placeholder and competing with Amukamara for the starting job, Coe took advantage of the work he was receiving at the time.
It’s now paying off.
“Anytime I’m out there with the one’s or two’s, you always learn from the guys that go in front of you or behind you and see what kinds of mistakes you get because everybody is going to get the same type of plays,” Coe said. “So you kind of got to put yourself in that position mentally and just get ready to go out there. When I was out there every time with the ones, I took it as that and tried to put myself in the best position to be with the starters.”
Tags: Michael Coe
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