New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said during his weekly press conference this week that head coach Tom Coughlin will make the final determination on whether cornerback Prince Amukamara, the team's first-round draft pick, will make his season debut on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
"When Tom gives him the okay, we'll give him the okay," said Fewell.
Fewell also spoke about the challenge of containing San Fransisco running back Frank Gore, who has five straight 100+ yard games. Full transcript after the jump.
Q: Does Prince Amukamara look any more ready this week?
A: He's gotten a few more reps. Tom will make that decision. I'm not going to make that call, but we like some of the things he's doing out there.
Q: Are you antsy to get him onto the field?
A: I'm very excited to see him play. I'm very excited with what Coach Giunta has been doing with him and the progress he's made and if he can help our football team, obviously I'll be excited about that.
Q: Does he mentally/physically seem ready to do that?
A: He's making progress every day. We throw a lot at him and he's been working mentally every day since he's been injured. Now to put that all into action with the physical reps, we see progress. When Tom gives him the okay, we'll give him the okay.
Q: Do you ever feel like telling your guys to go easy on him?
A: No. He gets it pretty tough. No, we never go easy on him.
Q: How much have you had to use Antrel Rolle against the pass and how much has that affected your run defense?
A: Antrel is playing a different role, no play on words, for us this year. It has affected our run fits and how we do some things, but it's essentially a role that he played in a package that we had a year ago. He was very successful at it and we were very successful in the run game. It has affected it just a little bit.
Q: If Prince comes back and can hold his own, would that allow you to let Antrel do what you want him to do against the run?
A: Really haven't made those plans yet. First we're just trying to get Prince back and get his feet wet. Then we'll make decisions from there. We haven't really decided because if we have good chemistry in what we're doing right now, if we're winning and we're making progress with what we're doing right now, I don't want to disrupt that chemistry.
Q: Is your run defense improving?
A: I thought we improved some last week. Obviously I didn't like the first play of the game, but I thought we came back and responded well. I thought we tackled better last week also.
Q: What do you see in Alex Smith?
A: I think Coach Harbaugh has done a really nice job of having him manage the game. He makes a lot of good decisions, smart decisions. It looks like he understands where he wants to go with the ball and he's really taking his coaching, as far as, ‘Hey, I'm going to my primary read and if my primary read isn't there he goes one, two, three and...' So he's been very efficient in the way he does that and handles that. The run has helped him tremendously. They have two really good runners. So that's taken a lot of pressure off him. Therefore he can make a lot of smart decisions.
Q: Does it make sense because of how good their running game has been to try to keep the ball in Alex Smith's hands?
A: No doubt about it.
Q: Just try to make him make big plays? It doesn't sound like he goes down the field very much.
A: It's a west coast style in the sense that it's the short pass game. So it's an efficient pass game. From what I see on film, it looks like the reads have been very good for him, not simple, but he's been efficient at reading the coverages that he's been getting. They don't ask him to go out and throw it 50 times and try to win a football game for them. They ask him to manage the game and run the game efficiently.
Q: Is it worth it to speak to Baas and see what he can tell you about the 49ers offense?
A: I always try to tap the player for information about their offensive players and what he thinks, etc. This is a different team. Every team is a different team so you try to gather as much information as you can, but you sort through what you actually use.
Q: Is this a game where you can play more three-linebacker packages?
A: It's a possibility, yeah. You have to be able to stop the run. So we're going to have to use all hands on deck. I might have to put additional people out there because they're running the ball very efficiently. It's a possibility we could do that.
Q: Are other defenses loading up on the run and Gore is still getting 100 yards?
A: I wouldn't say they're loading up against the run. I think Gore has excellent vision as a runner. He is very patient as a runner. That offensive line is doing a nice job. I don't see any weak links on that offensive line and if [Gore] sees a crease or he sees a inkling that he can burst through and get three or four, he'll burst through and instead of getting three and four, sometimes he's getting six, seven and eight. I just think he's an exceptional runner.
Q: What was the biggest thing holding back your run defense?
A: I won't say because that's information that I want to keep in house. But we're improving.
Q: More schematic or personnel?
A: We're improving.
Q: Have you had to coach differently with all the young kids?
A: No, we don't coach differently.
Q: You don't have to go easy or build up their confidence?
A: No. I think our core of veteran players, they do the job of managing those guys. They try to teach them this is the National Football League, that they have to be ready anytime we call them. We're trying to use them in a sense that we're gaining experience and they're gaining knowledge and they're gaining playing experience and this is going to help us and help them down the road. It's not like they take a back seat or anything like that. Sometimes they're in the plan and sometimes they're not in the plan.
Q: Do you feel like you'll learn something about your run defense in the next two weeks?
A: I learn something about our run defense every week because we have not faced a bad runner this year in my opinion. You know, McCoy, you can keep going down the list. This has just been a long line of good runners that we're facing and good offenses that we're facing this year.
Q: Has JPP benefited from fewer snaps because Tuck is back?
A: Oh yeah. He has more energy. Sometimes I make that statement to make a statement to our defense too. We don't need to play as many snaps as we were playing early in the season. We were playing 75 and 80 plays. That's too many snaps for us to play. We need to play less plays and get our butts off the field. That's attributable to us getting off the field a little bit better too.
Q: In Prince's first game back, will he have 35 snaps like Osi did in his first game back?
A: We really haven't determined what amount of plays he would play. I would say it would be different for a defensive back and not in the sense that the defensive line doesn't run every play and we substitute those guys every play, but just the different looks that a defensive back would get, the different coverages, the different movements that he would get. It's just a little different. And then how we tend to use him. How will we decide to use Prince will determine the number of snaps he will get too.
Q: Guys in the locker room said the run defense was better against the Patriots. Can that be a turning point and a confidence builder?
A: I hope so. I definitely hope so because we definitely have confidence that we can stop. Sometimes we don't do a good job of tackling. Sometimes we don't do a good job of playing together as a unit. I thought we played much better as a unit last week. When we do that, then we're able to stop the run and stop the pass.