You can call Osi Umenyiora overrated all you want. And you can go on and on about how ineffective he was this year.
But as far as Tom Coughlin is concerned, the defensive end isn't going anywhere.
One day after Umenyiora said he might have played his last game as a Giants, Coughlin offered up a vote of support. He said Umenyiora was part of the meeting the coach had with his 10-member "leadership council" but did not speak to him privately about his comments.
"I'm familiar with what he said," Coughlin said, chalking up Umenyiora's sentiments to frustration. "He's very much in our plans. I'll just tell you he's a very important asset to our team."
He wasn't yesterday. Because of his demotion to strictly pass-rush situations, Umenyiora played only about 14 snaps or so and did not have a statistic. That's no tackles, no sacks, no pressures. Niente!
The Panthers did run 46 times, a fact Coughlin used to explain Umenyiora's absence. But then, Umenyiora was invisible a lot this year, even before he lost his starting job to Mathias Kiwanuka. Still coming off last year's knee surgery, Umenyiora was your basic non-factor against the run and only a sometime visitor to the backfield on passing downs.
He is signed through 2012, and fairly cheaply at that. So one can assume he will be sticking around, and also bet he'll not be getting that lucrative extension he's been after until he proves he can at least approach his Pro Bowl level of 2007.
Whether he ever assumes a starting role again is another story.
"We'll try to evaluate all those things," Coughlin said. "He's a very good football player. How all those things fit together, I'm not going to go into that right now. He's a very good football player. Always has been. Great pride. Does an exceptional job getting after the passer."
Maybe in other seasons. Not this one. But Coughlin can be excused. He needs Umenyiora for another game, so trashing him wouldn't make any sense.
I think he sticks. He'll be healthier, which means he should at least return to being a forceful pass rusher. And what team couldn't use a 28-year-old sacker?
Do you guys want to see him around next year?
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