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Osi Umenyiora Diary

"It's really cool getting to locker right next to Michael Strahan. He's a good guy. He tells me so many good things. He's confident in me, which really, really helps me out."<BR><BR>

When I was inactive for those three weeks, it really hit me hard. You really don't understand how much football really means to you until you're sitting out and watching your teammates play. The first week, I was really disappointed; I was crushed.

You don't find out whether you're going to dress or not until right before the game. You prepare, practice, watch tape and take film home all week as if you're going to play. When you find out you're not going to, that's the worst. That really hits you. Denny (Marcin, DL coach) came to me and told me that I was inactive, that I wasn't playing. That shocked me.

Denny told me that it wasn't anything that I was doing badly; it was just that certain situations call for certain things. He told me to take advantage of my time out to watch and learn. I just sat back and started really observing what everyone did on game day, and I think that really helped me out a lot. When I was watching I realized that I needed to get off the ball quicker, and stay lower. I just started working on that stuff. When you know you're not going to play, you can kind of throw everything out of the window, clear your mind and get back to the fundamentals, what you're supposed to be doing.

Sitting down made me realize that in order to play on this level that I had to get a whole lot better. I can't just rely on natural ability anymore. You really have to focus in on what you're supposed to do.

I was surprised the first time, but after that I started to expect it. I knew the week leading up to the Vikings game that I'd be back in the lineup. I knew all week that I'd be back in so I was able to hone in all week long.

I did pretty well in that Vikings game. A year ago I never would have thought that I'd be dropping Randy Moss for a big loss on a reverse try. The coaches did a real good job of preparing me for that play all week and I was in the right place at the right time.

All week long Coach Fassel kept telling me that since I was a rookie that they were going to run that reverse right at me. He kept telling me over and over again. He said that I better make that play. Every single day he was on me – like two or three times a day. First quarter when they put me in the game for Kenny Holmes, it was the first play they ran. It was really, really funny how that worked out. That was pretty cool. If I didn't make that play I would have been out of there for sure.

I really needed to make a play like that. Something like that really helps your confidence a lot. You need plays like that to show yourself, your teammates and your coaches that they can have confidence in you in any situation. Right now, I don't think they're scared to put me in the game in any situation. That's a good thing. I'm still a backup, but it's nice that they have more confidence in me than they did before.

I've been getting better every week. The more snaps you get in a game; it gets a whole lot better. You start to see things that you haven't seen before. You start to get into the flow a lot quicker. It's tough to get in a rhythm when you're in and out of the lineup. The more you get to go against your guy, the better you'll be.

I still feel great right now. People were telling me that I'd hit a rookie wall. Maybe because I was inactive for three games, I didn't really hit it. I haven't hit any wall at all. The more the season winds down; it's kind of getting scary. I really don't want it to end. Hopefully we can just keep on going.

I never thought we'd be 4-5, but we're better than that. We just had some bad breaks. We'll still get a chance to come out and prove some things during the final seven games. It's not the coaches; it's the players, myself included. It's just little, small things that are going wrong.

I'm still very confident that we can turn this around. I don't have any doubt. We have great players here. I don't see too many teams that are better than us, talent-wise. We have to focus in on what we're supposed to do. If we're supposed to read the offensive lineman going down, then we have to read the offensive lineman going down. It's simple things like that that we haven't been able to do.

We're going in the right direction. Today (Wednesday, Nov. 12) was a great practice. It was good for everybody. It looked like everybody was focused in. Today was the best I've seen this team practice since I've been here. No one was making mistakes; everyone was focused in on what they were supposed to do.

It's really cool getting to locker right next to Michael Strahan. He's a good guy. He tells me so many good things. He's confident in me, which really, really helps me out. When he sees me in there, he's excited for me and encourages me. I'm just happy to be right here next to him. Getting to play with him, Kenny Holmes, Keith Washington has been great; they've all been helping me out a lot.

I still have so much more to learn. I'd say I only know about 25 percent of all that I need to know. I'm still going basically on natural ability. Denny is still trying to hammer little things into my head. I may be hard-headed, but I'll get it right. It's tough going from doing whatever I wanted to, like I did at Troy State. One great thing about Denny is that he isn't trying to take away what I do. He's just trying to improve on it. He's not trying to turn me into something I'm not. He tells me to do what I do, but then add to it and counter it with other moves.

The run game is still tougher on me than pass rushing. Sometimes I try to focus in so much on watching the ball and getting off on the ball that sometimes I'll get off on the ball and I'm not even watching my man. The running game is definitely something I'm still working on. I have to learn how to watch the ball and my man at the same time.

I fully expect us to turn this thing around. It's not like we're out of it by any stretch. There are a bunch of other teams that are in our same boat. We just have to step our game up a little bit. We're either going to go up or go down. We have to keep on pushing. Hopefully we'll turn this thing around. Honestly, I think we will.


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