Tuck:I'll Enjoy That Super Bowl When I Retire

As if winning the Super Bowl didn't afford Justin Tuck an enjoyable enough offseason, he then went out and got married as well. It sure seems like a good time to be Justin Tuck, what with Michael Strahan retiring and all.

Tuck, who bust out last season with 10 sacks, before adding two more in New York's Super Bowl XLII victory, now takes over as the starting left defensive end on one of the game's top defensive units. Here's what Tuck had to say to TGI as camp wound down.

Q: I have to ask the obligatory replacing Strahan question so let's get it out of the way.

A: There is so much pressure on me right now (laughs). No, honestly, it's the same thing. Last year I just wasn't a starter. Now it's just me and Osi (Umenyiora) instead of me, Osi and (Michael) Strahan. Hopefully we can get a three-man rotation like we did with someone like Dave Tollefson. It really isn't any different other than that we don't have the old man there.

Q: Do you feel and see guys looking to you a little more without Michael around?

A: A little bit. Obviously Osi takes over the reins in the D-line room, him and Fred (Robbins). I'm a low-key guy. I try my best to just go out and do my job and then go home. A couple of guys may come by to ask a question or something of that nature, but for the most part, it's pretty much the same.

Q: Is it quieter without Michael?

A: It's quieter in the sense of not as many tabloids I guess. In that D-line room we pretty much picked up the slack that he left. There's still a bunch of shenanigans going on in there.

Q: What actually does go on in there?

A: A lot. A lot. We just have fun in there. We do a lot of work, obviously, but we have fun. We tell stories, we tell jokes. We crack on each other. We'll bust out in song out of nowhere. We try to do things to liven up the pressures and stress of camp and football in general. Coach (Mike) Waufle is right in there with us. He's the perfect D-line coach.

Q: Have you set any expectations for yourself this season?

A: Absolutely. I have individual goals like making the Pro Bowl, being an All-Pro and leading the team in sacks. But I'm more of a guy that sets goals as far as being the best defense, leading the league in sacks as a defensive line, things like that.

Q: The perception is that since you subbed in last year you were in a better position to produce and that now as a starter it's going to be tougher for you. What are your thoughts on that?

A: There is some truth to that. But there is also some inaccuracy to it. Being in the position I was in last year, they asked me to do a lot of things. On some first down plays, I was playing three-technique and one-technique (in the middle of the line) and they're running the football. Obviously that's not a good position for me to be in. And also since we were rotating in and out guys didn't get as many reps as we would have if we were starters. That allowed us to be rested at the end of football games but it also cut down on our opportunities too.

Q: Obviously everyone on defense likes to rush the passer, but what do you like most about playing DE?

A: I like the versatility that our D-line shows. It's nothing out of the ordinary for you to see a D-lineman in our package dropping, rushing, playing the run, fake-blitzing then dropping into coverage. I stand up, we cover man-to-man on tight ends, we drop into zone coverage over the wide receivers. It really shows off how athletic you have to be to play defensive line in this system.

Q: How was this camp coming off the Super Bowl win?

A: It's been a regular camp. There are more people up here, but it's basically been a normal football camp. We put that whole Super Bowl thing … it's backdoor now. I'll enjoy that Super Bowl when I retire. But now it's time to get back and try to win another one.

Q: But does being the champs give you guys a little extra swagger?

A: Yeah, I guess. But I think that's a little overrated. It's the NFL so it's more like ‘what have you done for me lately?'

Q: Why is this team going to be able to repeat or contend when so many others before it have failed?

A: Because we really don't put too much emphasis on what we did last year. That doesn't mean a hill of beans now. We're looking forward to talking it one step at a time. We realize we're going to get everybody's best shot but we like it like that. I want to play teams that want to knock me off. And that brings the best out of me also. I think the reason why we're going to be successful is because of our leadership, our coaching staff and because we really have a good group of guys that get it.

Q: Finally, have any of the reserve guys on the line especially impressed you?

A: We have a lot of guys vying to make this football team. Wallace Gilberry, I spoke to Dave Tollefson, who's had a pretty good camp. I really like our D-line as a whole. We really have a good group of guys that work well together.

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