(Long Island, N.Y.) The doors have reopened and the locked out players are once again welcomed to their team’s respective training camp facilities. Minicamps and OTAs cannot be made up, so it’s cram course time with the playbooks and team meetings, let alone contact drills on the field.
These activities hold a much more important place in the life of an NFL rookie and the majority of the first round selections trickled in early on, getting a leg up where it is certainly needed. But there was one who held out during contract negotiations and missed some valuable time and his head coach didn’t make any effort to hide his frustration with Prince Amukamara.
“The rookies should and need to be in here,” said Tom Coughlin. “If they are going to help you right away, then they need to be here. We didn’t have an offseason so getting here and getting going is important.”
Even when the cornerback was finally in the fold with a four-year, $8 million deal, Coughlin knew that Amukamara had a lot of catching up to do. “It depends on how fast he can learn a new language,” he commented. “It is Chinese to him right now so he has a lot of work to do that way.”
Amukamara will have plenty of time to become familiarized with the system after breaking a bone in his left foot his second day practicing with the team. He will have to undergo surgery and will miss approximately eight weeks. Those five practices lost to his holdout seem trivial now.
The injury is far from a career ender, so Amukamara will eventually see the playing field, albeit later than expected.
Someone with the talent that Amukamara possesses may find the transition somewhat easier than a lesser prospect. At Nebraska, he started four games in his sophomore season and was a full time starter the next year. By the time he was a senior, Amukamara was the NCAA version of Darrelle Revis, with only 52 passes coming his way, resulting in a scant 18 completions. The fact that he had zero interceptions did not affect his draft status, as scouts knew it was not from a lack of ability but rather opportunities.
Accolades included being named an American Football Coaches Association All-American, a Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, a first-team All Big 12 All American and a first-team All American. Amukamara was expected to go higher but fell to the Giants and number 19, who tabbed him even though their secondary was not the top position of need.
Speaking truthfully, Amukamara sounded like a first round draft pick when he told reporters after signing, “I am fully confident in my learning ability. I just have to put in the work and I can’t take any days off when we do have days off and just continue to stay in the playbook and keep grinding.”
Making up for lost time, just like an NFL rookie should. Except that Amukamara will have more than he bargained for.