Giants vets absent, youngsters get chance

Patti Traina, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

EAST RUTHERFORD, N. J. -- Spring OTAs with the New York Giants are a chance for younger players to step up and show the coaches that they belong on the roster. But with snaps generally limited, sometimes players get lost in the shuffle.
That wasn't the case on Thursday at defensive end for the Giants, as starters Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck were both missing from the OTAs.
Tuck's absence was believed to be due to his foundation's annual billiards event in New York City taking place later in the day. The defensive end has made the rounds promoting the event on television and radio.
The reason for Pierre-Paul's absence was not known.
In their places, youngsters such as Adrian Tracy stepped in with the starting defense with the goal of showing they're ready to run with the starters.
"That's the idea," coach Tom Coughlin said about getting the young players opportunities with the starters.
So how did the kids do?
"There were flashes," Coughlin said. "We're restricted in that there can't be contact, but the guys are doing the best they can with it," the coach said. "(Tracy) has shown some good ability to get off on the snap."
Tracy, who is entering his third season out of William & Mary, has an opportunity to have a breakout season if he can nail down the fourth defensive end spot that became open when Osi Umenyiora left for Atlanta as an unrestricted free agent.
"It is big not only for me but for everybody," said Tracy, who ironically has been given the moniker "YOsi" -- "young Osi" -- by his teammates.
"Somebody of that stature leaves for whatever reason, an opportunity always opens. Whoever seizes it will step in that place and hopefully that is me this year."
Tracy's opportunities have been limited to date. As a rookie, he suffered a season-ending elbow injury as he attempted to transition from defensive end in a 3-4 system to linebacker. Last year, he moved back to defensive end, and saw a handful of snaps after making the 53-man roster, but was primarily used on special teams.
This year, Tracy, who has also done some work as a linebacker, is hoping that if he can get on the field more, he can show people that he's a hidden gem just waiting to be unleashed in pass rushing situations.
"I am very confident in my skills and my abilities and I think the coaches recognize my versatility and what I can bring to the table," he said. "But like last year, there are various other people that were better than what I was doing at that position so hopefully with this opportunity that I have I continue to take advantage of it."

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