Giants DE Osi Umenyiora has not had the smoothest offseason. First, he sounded off after what he believed was a slight last season, getting benched in favor of Mathias Kiwanuka, which set off a tense standoff with the Giants' coaches and management. And through the offseason, Umenyiora weighed the pros and cons of getting his painful hip condition surgically repaired before eventually deciding he can play this season through the pain.
Electing to have surgery might have made things easier for Umenyiora in the long term, but he thinks he made the right choice — for now — to leave it alone. The decision was made even after noted specialist Dr. Marc Philippon recommended that Umenyiora have the hip, which has given Umenyiora pain since he tore his hip flexor in 2006, cut open.
"Obviously, there's nothing (new) about the warning that (associate team physician) Brian Kelly and (head trainer) Ronnie Barnes haven't been telling me for the last couple of years, but I'm really not looking forward to getting cut open again," Umenyiora said. "It's something I really don't want to do, but at some point it's going to be necessary and at some point — if I feel like I need to prolong my career or something — I'm going to have to do it eventually."
Umenyiora is heading into his ninth season, coming off a forgettable campaign. The Giants' defense also struggled badly, and the lack of pressure became a decided weakness after it had been an unquestioned strength during the 2007 and '08 seasons. Umenyiora said he's not considering retirement after this season but knows he might not have a lot more years of football in his future.
"Best-case scenario: Four (more seasons)," Umenyiora said.
Although the injury is unspecified, something Umenyiora and the team have not delved into specifically, it appears that fighting through pain might be his biggest obstacle right now and that doing further damage by playing isn't a real concern.
"(Playing) doesn't affect it at all," he said. "It's something I've dealt with for a while now, so it doesn't affect it at all. As far as me coming out here and competing, I'm going to compete and I'm going to play to the best of my ability and whatever happens after that happens."
Right now, the Giants have not set a pecking order on the defensive line, but our sources say it's likely that Kiwanuka could start with Umenyiora coming off the bench in a rotation. When asked how the Giants might use him, Umenyiora said he will do what the coaches ask of him and admitted he made some poor judgment calls in the offseason.
"I think they're going to use us to the best of our abilities. I think there's enough out there for everybody," he said. "Obviously I've been very selfish in the past with my demands and some of the things that I have wanted, but I don't really feel that way anymore right now. There's enough playing time for everybody.
"No matter where they put me, if I'm coming off the bench, I'm just going to be the best damn player ever so whatever they require me to do."
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