Peter Giunta would not anoint Prince Amukamara as the New York Giants' No. 1 cornerback, but when the secondary/cornerbacks coach indicated recently that the days of Corey Webster always covering the opposition's best receiver are most likely over.
"We always try to match him (Webster) up on the best receiver so he was constantly challenged, and maybe we can alleviate a little bit of that pressure this year," Giunta said. "The way they’re playing, we can play left and right."
Giunta spoke glowingly about the development of Amukamara, the third-year player who was the Giants' first-round pick in 2011.
"He’s a completely different player now because he’s had the opportunity to work the whole time. (Until this offseason) he’s been rehabbing the whole time; there’s a huge difference between rehabbing and between conditioning and getting ready to play football," Giunta said.
Even though Amukamara was in his second season, Giunta referred to both Amukamara and Jayron Hosley as "rookies' in 2012.
"Now they both gained experience and played in a lot of games last year so they can go right and left and you can match guys up different ways," Giunta said. "We have Aaron [Ross] back, hopefully Terrell [Thomas] will be back, obviously Jayron, all gained experience."
The Giants were 28th in the league a season ago against the pass, surrendering 254.2 yards per game. They gave up 60 pass plays of at least 20 yards or more, and only four other teams gave up that many or more. Only one team allowed more than the 13 pass plays of 40 yards or more that the Giants gave up in 2012.
"I guess it could be a bunch of different reasons, I couldn’t put my finger on one," Webster said recently. "It was a lot of younger guys, a lot of different guys playing with each other, a lot of guys not used to playing with each other… you know you have injuries, so a bunch of things could happen that can cause that."
Giunta knows that they need to be better in 2013.
"We didn’t play good, solid technique consistently enough. We had our ups and downs, we had too many breaks in our concentration, our focus, our techniques. It was a number of different things, not just one specific thing," Giunta said. "We really tried to emphasize this whole spring about getting back to playing sound, fundamental techniques, and the guys spent a great deal of time working at it this spring and they studied tape a lot, they studied themselves -- what they did well, what they did not do so well, and how they had to improve going into next football season -- so that’s what we're excited about. We’re excited about the way they’re attacking and playing the ball in the air."
Whether or not they are better in 2013 remains to be seen. As a group they appear, however, to be off to a good start.