Torbor has no plans to surrender starting spot

If linebacker Reggie Torbor expected his summer switch to the strong side to be temporary, perhaps a pit stop while Barrett Green's knee continued to heal, he got the surprise of his short career from Tom Coughlin a few days before Sunday's opener with the Cardinals.

Even though Green was well enough to finally participate in 10 plays in the preseason finale at New England, looking mobile gliding sideline to sideline, Coughlin decided to stick with the alignment that carried him through most of training camp with Carlos Emmons on the weak side and Torbor flanking Antonio Pierce in the middle.

"That's the way we are going to go," Coughlin said. "We made the initial move because we had to move on [because of Green's injury]. Not a whole lot has changed with regard to that right now. You know it takes everybody [to be successful]. We need everybody.

"The more quality players we can have, the better we are going to be because as you go through the course of the season and one guy is up and one guy is down and there is a nick here and a nick there, everybody has to perform if you are going to be able to keep going. The more quality players we have, the better off we are going to be."

It's clear the Giants obviously feel that Torbor is one of those players.

For Torbor, the ascension into an NFL starting lineup completes a seven-year cycle that began as a senior in high school in Baton Rouge, La., where he rushed for 1,241 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. By the time he'd graduated he was picked by one publication as one of the top dozen running backs in the South.

But the coaches at Auburn never had any intention of playing him at halfback, not with a talented group of halfbacks around like Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown and for one year, Torbor's senior season, Giants rookie Brandon Jacobs.

After redshirting in 1999, Torbor was a defensive end from the first day he stepped on the practice field. But even then his teammates saw something greater coming.

"What I remember about Reggie was what a competitor he was, how hard he worked on the practice field," Jacobs said. "He was a leader who took his role as a senior very seriously. If someone needed to go to him with a problem he was there for them.

"There were a lot of people at Auburn who predicted he would play linebacker in the NFL. Reggie was a killer player in college. He made a lot of tackles, sacks, [quarterback] pressures. He can hit. He'll bring it to you and he likes it. He was very good at what he was asked to do."

In the eyes of the Giants coaching staff there are few players on their team with more potential than Torbor, their fourth-round pick in 2004. Despite being a dominant end in college – he posted 19.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries in 46 games – the Giants literally pictured him as a stand-up guy from the start. They placed him at linebacker where his athleticism would allow him to roam with few restraints.

"I've looked at all the things I've done in my career as a challenge," Torbor said. "I'm grateful to the coaches who thought enough about me, to think I was smart enough and had the physical ability, to handle all the things they threw my way."

Torbor admits he's had a much easier time as a second-year player, now that life is no longer fraught with the anxiety that seems to always envelope rookies.

"During the offseason training program it seems like a light switch went on for me," Torbor said. "All the things the coaches were saying suddenly started to make sense and come together. That's helped me feel like I was learning so much more once mini-camp and training camp came along. Things became clearer to me and sank in much easier.

"I've never had a problem with how strong or fast I was. It's always been a mental thing. I remember thinking as a rookie and now as a first-year starter whether I could take the offensive coordinators picking on me?"

But now that his talent has begun to assert itself, Torbor is ready to work toward assuming the role he'd become so familiar with in college. He refuses to look at his new assignment as temporary.

"I'm very pleased about what's going on, but at the same time there is a lot of responsibility. There are a lot of people counting on me. They expect me to perform," Torbor said. "But if you look back you can't see what's coming in front of you. The coaches let me play and I let them coach. If they want to make changes, that's what they get paid to do. I try not to cross the decision-making line.

"I've always tried to be a leader. I like to be vocal and set an example for my teammates, but at the same time I feel that you have to do something first. You can't get someone to do something if you haven't done anything yourself. So I just try to work hard and lead by example. When my time comes to lead, I'll be ready."

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