ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — At last, after two long years with the Giants, Adrian Tracy has found a spot on defense.
He also has a new name.
Meet “Young Osi,” the defensive end who has a lot in common with his fellow position mate, Osi Umenyiora.
Tracy is a little undersized to be an end, but he has the same type of speed and explosive burst that helped make Umenyiora a two-time Pro Bowl standout and a constant threat to quarterbacks in passing situations.
Getting to this point hasn’t been easy for Tracy, a sixth-round draft pick in 2010 out of William & Mary. He missed his rookie season after dislocating an elbow. He also ruptured a biceps tendon in a preseason game, and then spent last year’s Super Bowl season on the Giants’ practice squad after failing to make the roster as a linebacker.
This season? Different story. The Giants moved Tracy back to end, the position he played in college, and it appears to be working out. Tracy feels back in control.
“I knew my assignment, I knew my alignment and what I was supposed to do and what was required of me,” Tracy said. “Sometimes, it may not have happened as I had hoped or the coaches had hoped. That was the biggest thing, knowing what you’re doing, getting in line and just going to play ball.”
Tracy played well in the Giants’ preseason opener vs. Jacksonville, recording a sack and forced fumble that set up a touchdown. He also had a pressure that led to a sack by cornerback Jayron Hosley, although he was clearly disappointed he didn’t make the play.
Still Tracy is feeling more at home, like he did in college. It was “see ball, get ball” and that’s what he is doing now.
But there have been mistakes. In Friday’s game, the Jaguars capitalized on Tracy’s aggressiveness. He ran up the field carelessly on a pass rush, and the Jaguars subsequently ran the ball through his hole for a touchdown.
“There’s that one play that sticks out in your mind the whole game,” Tracy said. “And that was it.”
Umenyiora smiled when asked about Tracy’s mistake. He has made the same one more than once in his career, and it’s a learning experience for everyone.
“No question,” Umenyiora said. “You have to encourage him and let him know that, along with great talent, there’s definitely going to be some times (and) some things he hasn’t seen before. He’s going to make mistakes, but he shouldn’t hold himself accountable for every single thing he does like that because it’s all a learning process for him. I think he’s going to be an outstanding football player.”
The 30-year-old Umenyiora also sees the resemblance between his style of play, and that of the 25-year-old Tracy. The two are around the same size. Umenyiora is 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds, an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier. And they have similar speed, though Tracy pleaded the fifth when asked who would win a race between the two.
“He’s doing a phenomenal job and I love the way he plays and prepares,” Umenyiora said. “He’s always willing to learn, he’s always willing to train afterward, working on different things and you hear him asking questions. He’s willing to get better. It’s just very good to see a young guy like that performing the way he’s performing.”
Tracy also pays attention to defensive captain Justin Tuck, another lineman.
“The biggest thing I pick up from Osi is get-off. He’s got a knack and a natural ability to key (on) the snap and get off on the ball,” Tracy said. “And as far as Tuck, he’s just a technician with his hands and getting (opponents) off of him, it’s ridiculous. I try to pick those things out of their game and implement it to mine.”
With the loss to defensive end Dave Tollefson to free agency, there is an opening for another pass rusher.
“This defense has a lot of tools and a lot of talent. Anywhere they can plug me in, I feel like it’s an honor,” Tracy said. “So if they told me (to play) the D-end position, that was the position I was going to work at and try my best to be.”
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