NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Tuck is going through one of those seasons that can best be described as an off year.
One of the most dominant players in the NFL in 2010 when he had 11½ sacks and 99 tackles, Tuck has missed four games for the Giants (6-3) with neck and groin injuries, and he has been a shell of himself since returning to the lineup.
“I do suck,” Tuck said. “I’m not a very good player right now.”
In the 27-20 loss in San Francisco, he had a quarterback hurry and one pass defended playing a good portion of the game.
It’s not the kind of performance one expects from a defensive captain, and Tuck is even harder on himself when he looks at his statistics and sees 10 tackles, 2.0 sacks and two passes defended in five games.
“I am not me,” said Tuck. “It’s frustrating because I do look at myself on film and I don’t like what I see, and it’s not the effort. I feel like I am putting forth the effort. It’s some things not allowing me to play my style of football.”
The seven-year veteran from Notre Dame refused to use his injuries as any excuse but it is obvious that he is concerned about the neck injury. He suffered a stringer in the preseason against the Jets and it has not totally healed.
“Obviously, I am not having the year that I normally have, but it’s just part of it,” said Tuck, who returned to the lineup three games ago. “Sometimes, you are going to have things acting up on you that don’t allow you to do the things you want to do to make you a good football player. That’s neither here nor there. I will try to continue to work to help this football team win.”
If there is a saving grace for Tuck, it’s the fact the Giants are in first place in the NFC East heading into this weekend’s game at MetLife Stadium with the Philadelphia Eagles (3-6).
The wins have made up for the poor play, the injuries and the frustration.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell was kinder in describing Tuck’s play.
“Obviously, he was playing at a high level in the preseason before his injury,” Fewell said. “Has he been able to jump back on the bicycle and ride as fast as we want him to ride? No! But I think I think it’s coming. He’s always more critical of himself than anybody else. He wants to improve and get better, and he will get better. It just takes time.”
Veteran defensive tackle Chris Canty said any time your neck hurts it’s hard to play.
“When you are a defensive lineman, you are going to hit somebody with your head and helmet and neck,” Canty said. “You are going to have contact. When that’s not 100 percent, that’s tough.”
Canty added that an injured Tuck is still a productive player.
Fellow defensive end Dave Tollefson said statistics don’t always tell the story in a game, adding sometimes doing your job means a runner may not come in your direction or that handling a double team free up teammates to make the play.
“He has done a good job of staying the course and not freaking out,” Tollefson said. “I need to do my job and he is just so consistent with that part of his leadership. He doesn’t jump ship when things don’t go right. That’s a testament to him and the type of guy he is.”
Tuck is honest when he says some of his frustration — at least from the ego standpoint — is not putting up better statistics.
However, watching himself not being able to do things he did last season is hard to take.
“I am very hopeful that sooner or later we’ll catch up with all the little nagging things,’ said the 28-year-old, who is letting his beard grow this month. “It’s not anything that is going to hold me out of a game, it’s just little things that I know I can’t put myself in these positions where I normally could because that potentially could lead to something different.”
NOTES: RB Ahmad Bradshaw said his broken right foot is feeling better and he hopes to play against New Orleans on Nov. 28. …First round draft pick Prince Amukamara practiced full for the first time since breaking his foot in training camp and hopes to make his NFL debut this weekend. ….MLB Michael Boley (hamstring) didn’t practice for the second straight day. …LT Will Beatty did not practice because of a back problem.
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