New York Minute

September 14, 2009 3:34 PM

Osi a Big Return for Giants

It was a transaction that slipped under the radar of a lot of NFL observers in the off-season, but the Giants acquired the services of an All-Pro defensive end.
For a defense that was already one of the best in the business, that is no small addition.

Having Osi Umenyiora back on the defensive line is a major addition for the Giants, and he proved why in Sunday’s easier-than-it-looked 23-17 win over Washington.

Umenyiora, 27, missed all of the 2008 season after undergoing knee surgery last August. He suffered a torn lateral meniscus cartilage in his left knee in a preseason game against the Jets on Aug. 23 and was placed on injured reserve three days later.
The injury came after a brilliant season in 2007, when he led the team in sacks with 13 and was the only member of the Giants defense selected to the Pro Bowl.

Oh, and the Giants won the Super Bowl that season.

Umenyiora returned Sunday, and he made his presence felt. In the second quarter, he stripped quarterback Jason Campbell, picked up the fumble and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown.

Welcome back, Big Fella.

“I can't even explain it to you.,’’ Umenyiora said on what it was like to be back on the field. “Sometimes when you're out there all the time, you kind of forget what it feels like to not be out there. Last year, I missed it and I'm happy I was able to come back this year.”

Umenyiora finished with three tackles as the Giants defense set the tone for the season by stifling the Redskins for most of the day. The Giants forced two turnovers and held the Redskins to just 85 yards rushing, 34 of which came on a Clinton Portis run on the first play from scrimmage. The front line pressured Campbell all afternoon.

“I don't know many sacks we ended up with but it felt like we were getting to him,’’ linebacker Antonio Pierce said. “But he did break out of the pocket and made some great throws. I think everybody knows what the New York Giants defense is about, getting after the quarterback and applying pressure throughout the game. We did a pretty good job of doing that.”

A lot of the preseason talk regarding the Giants centered on quarterback Eli Manning and a virtually new crop of wide receivers. No Amani Toomer, no Plaxico Burress. But they still have a veteran offensive line, a strong running game and Manning, who is the highest paid player in the league.

This is a team, however, that will be defined by its defense. The strength of the Giants is their defensive line, and adding Umenyiora to the mix makes them even stronger. Having Umenyiora back harassing quarterbacks makes the Giants one of the top defensive teams in the NFL.
If any body doubts that, they should just ask Jason Campbell.

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