Osi Umenyiora could have a big day against the Bills Sunday as he faces fourth-round rookie left tackle Chris Hairston. But one wonders if he'd rather be taking on Antonio Pierce and Michael Strahan right now.
Umenyiora was none too happy with their recent criticisms of how Justin Tuck has handled his combination neck and groin injuries. The defensive end and team captain will miss his third straight game, though Pierce in particular had much to say about that in his ESPN commentary last week.
Pierce basically said that unless Tuck (and Brandon Jacobs, out a second game with a strained MCL) need surgery, or the injury is deemed serious, neither should absent himself from the field of battle. Strahan criticized Tuck for coming out of the second half of the win over Philadelphia three games ago after aggravating an already tender neck.
So, on Friday, Umenyiora strip-sacked the both of them on Tuck's behalf.
"It’s very, very disappointing," Umenyiora said Friday. "I can understand when the media does it. I don’t care about that, that’s their job.
"But the other guys played the game and they know what it’s like. It’s very disappointing, and it makes me question how real and how authentic they really are."
The irony of it all is that Pierce retired from the game in 2009 because of a neck injury, so he knows how dangerous that can be. And both guys played with Tuck long enough to know that the man is a warrior who has played through a variety of injuries, included a partial shoulder separation when Dallas tackle Flozell Adams tripped him on a dirty play early in the '09 season.
They both failed to realize the inactivity is hurting a guy like Tuck much more than the neck or the groin. But with a bye week coming up, there's no sense in rushing Tuck back.
Umenyiora can see that.
"It’s just crazy," the Giants' second-leading sacker (4) behind Jason Pierre-Paul said. "They know better. You have to take care of your health. You can’t question a guy’s toughness. You don’t know what he’s going through on the football field."
Umenyiora, meanwhile, could have a big day against Buffalo as Dave Tollefson steps in for a third straight game for Tuck. Hairston showed he has problems with speed rushers, and Umenyiora will give him plenty of that in the rookie's second career start.
While they all await Tuck's reemergence, pressuring Ryan Fitzpatrick will be only one key component to stopping the Bills. The other is stopping the running of Fred Jackson, who Umenyiora called one of the most underrated players in the NFL this year. All Jackson has done is run for three 100-yard games so far, to go along with five rushing touchdowns.
He probably can't wait to hear what his two ex-teammate pundits have to say about that.