Once I got out there, it was great. It was like déjà vu – I was back with the team that drafted me. Starting for the New York Giants again was great. When I left and went to Carolina, I really thought my days as a Giant were over. And I thought my days of running out of the tunnel and having the New York crowd cheer me on were over. It was good to come back.
I was very excited once I realized I was coming back here. The free agency process was very frustrating so I was thrilled once I knew it was over and I was back at home with the Giants. When I signed with the Giants it was almost like I wasn’t even going to a new team. I knew our practice facility; I knew our training camp area and the front office better than some of the new coaches and players that were already here. Everybody welcomed me with open arms.
There are also a lot of new players here that weren’t here my last time around. For one, Eli Manning is the quarterback. He impresses me every single day in practice with his development and how much better he gets. The sky’s the limit for that kid. The coaching staff is different with Tom Coughlin here instead of Jim Fassel.
Coach Coughlin is definitely a disciplinarian. But if you follow Coach Coughlin’s rules – even though we all might not agree with them – you won’t have a problem. And they’re not that difficult. I came from the same type of coach in college with Joe Paterno. If you just do what you’re supposed to do you’ll be fine.
It’s so great to be back in New York, the center of the world, literally. The UN is here. There are so many different things here. Whatever you want to experience – food, music, art – anything you want is right here on this seven-mile island.
I’m just glad to be back out there on defense. I bring excitement, energy and veteran leadership. I’m someone that’s played in Super Bowls and NFC Championship games and some of the other tough battles that a lot of other guys haven’t yet been in.
Another great thing is that every week my knee is progressively getting better. I feel really close to 100 percent right now. I’m not quite there, but it’s getting better all the time. I made a whole bunch of progress between my first and second start. I was much more comfortable out there on the field and getting a taste of the live bullets out there allowed me to react a little quicker. I knew where I was supposed to fit a little better.
Obviously there is still room for improvement. I looked at the tape and saw some things I need to work on. Just my overall play. I know that I can play better. But still it felt good to have an impact on the game.
With the veteran leadership that we have and how we are getting better every week, if we can stay healthy, the sky’s the limit. We just have to keep trying to come together as a defense and work on getting better every week. Every week is a big challenge. There are no easy games on this level – there are All-Americans and first-round picks on every team.
I have to mention my Nittany Lions. I know everyone’s all fired up over Rutgers around here, but it’s easy for me to defend Penn State. They lost to the number one team in the country, Ohio State, up there and they lost to the number two team in the country (Michigan) by only seven points. They were in both games. And they lost to Notre Dame at Notre Dame, a team that was in the top five at that point and one of the hottest in the nation until they ran into Michigan. We played three of the top five teams in the country, the only team to do that.
Finally, the big news this week comes from our star running back. All I have to say is that it’s a decision for Tiki, his wife and his family to make whether his career is going to be over or not. But the sky is still the limit for him. He’s clearly a Pro Bowler in my mind, but if he plays three or four more years, he’ll solidify his Hall-of-Fame status.