ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) Keith Bulluck is in a new position with the New York Giants, and it has nothing to do with playing middle linebacker.
In many ways, the 11-year NFL veteran is starting over. He has moved from the Tennessee Titans to the Giants and is coming off major knee surgery.
That’s not the biggest adjustment for the 33-year-old player. Bulluck is playing with the Giants’ second-team defense, watching third-year pro Jonathan Goff take snaps with the regulars.
While that all could change before the regular season begins against Carolina on Sept. 12, Bulluck has work to do.
Bulluck is still building his body seven months after surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. To be honest, there are times he appears to be a step slow.
Don’t tell that to Bulluck, though.
“I have had people write me off the past six or seven months,” Bulluck said. “If you look at my career, I have been nothing but at the top of my position. I wouldn’t come back if I didn’t plan on playing that way.”
Bulluck, who rehabilitated his knee without the assistance of an NFL training staff, said it is scary how good his knee feels. He admits he has to strengthen his quadriceps and he is doing extra work in the weight room every night. He is feeling no pain.
“If you have been watching practice, I might be one of the most physical people out there,” Bulluck said. “I am not holding back anything.”
After 10 seasons as a weakside linebacker with the Titans, Bulluck is making the move to the middle with the Giants, who were in desperate need there after releasing Antonio Pierce.
Bulluck is not only learning new coordinator Perry Fewell’s defense, he is doing it while being limited to one practice a day because of his knee. Because he signed late, the former Syracuse star didn’t get a chance to attend the Giants’ minicamp or offseason programs.
“It’s like going back to school,” Bulluck said. “At night I have to get in my books and study. I have to be alert on the field because I am not getting as many reps as I normally do.”
What might surprise people is watching Bulluck working with Goff and rookie middle linebacker Phillip Dillard. While there is a competition between them for playing time, the veteran is helping them after they make mistakes.
“With 10 years of knowledge I would be selfish not to share it with everyone else,” Bulluck said. “I want to help these young guys be successful and great football players, and help them understand what the league is about, how to practice, watch film and carry yourself, and the approach you need to be successful.”
Bulluck intends to be successful with the Giants. If they had a game this week, he said he would be ready to go, and it would not be with the second team. He plans to take over the starting job from Goff.
“He is going to be a good football player for this team, but of course, I would say he has to look over his shoulder,” Bulluck said.
The soft-spoken, low-key Goff feels confident about his game. He got experience starting the final three games last season while Pierce was out. He learned, and now is looking ahead.
“If you sit there and dwell on it, it will only hold you back,” Goff said. “You are not doing yourself any good.”
Head coach Tom Coughlin said the Giants aren’t rushing Bulluck.
“You can tell he is very mindful of putting himself in the right positions and he is gaining in confidence all the time,” Coughlin said.
A New York area native, Bulluck started 127 straight games before being hurt late last season and missing the final two weeks of the season.
“It’s not one of those things I am just coming back to play football,” Bulluck said. “I am coming back to play football and working to get myself in position to be the best. Like I say, I get better every day. I am just going to continue to get better every day, every month, every week.”
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