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Article on Amukamara

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Article on Amukamara

Post  Big_Pete on Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:25 am

Steven M. Sipple: Prince plays NFL waiting game with admirable patience

Posted: Saturday, July 9, 2011 11:00 pm

He plays the waiting game with admirable patience.

As he sits tight, he learns all he can from those who've been there, done that -- accomplished NFL men like Ndamukong Suh and Herm Edwards.

Make no mistake, Prince Amukamara is eager to begin his professional career. He champs at the bit. He still feels somewhat raw as a cornerback. After all, he didn't dedicate himself to being a corner until his sophomore season at Nebraska. Even so, he was the 19th overall pick, by the New York Giants, in last April's NFL Draft.

"I feel like there's a lot more I can learn, and I think that's scary, because that just means I can be that much better than I think am now," Amukamara said Saturday in Lincoln. "I definitely have a lot of upside and potential. That definitely excites me. I'm really excited to work with the Giants' staff and have an opportunity for them to accelerate and improve my knowledge of the game and my talents."

For now, however, it's all about patience. Maybe you've heard about the NFL lockout. Maybe you've seen TV clips of stern negotiators. Maybe you wonder how players handle the inherent tension of labor talks. Probably depends on who you ask.

The lockout may be good for some players, not so good for others -- such as a rookie who might need every bit of training camp to wrestle a starting job from a veteran who's been through the training camp grind and knows the playbook.

Amukamara seems to be holding up just fine, thank you. Better than fine, in fact.

"My agent (Todd France of Atlanta) is doing a great job of informing me what's going on and what he's hearing," Amukamara said. "I mean, I probably don't know the specifics. But I have a broad overview."

Discussion of NFL labor strife frankly bores me to tears. I'd rather read a lawnmower manual than ponder the rookie wage scale. But I do wonder about the players. I wonder how it feels to be in Amukamara's cleats. He's on the cusp of realizing a dream. On the verge of riches.

For now, though, he's without a contract. There was no minicamp to attend after the draft. He doesn't have a playbook. He's barred by NFL rules from having contact with Giants coaches and entering any team facilities.

He hasn't picked out a place to live in the Big Apple, or anywhere near it.

So much is on hold.

He's had minimal contact with future teammates. Giants starting corner Terrell Thomas recently sent Amukamara an encouraging text message, "just telling me to keep working and grinding and to prepare myself for when the lockout's over," Prince said.

A former high school star in Glendale, Ariz., Amukamara has spent most of the summer in Lincoln. He is extremely upbeat about his training regimen, heaping praise on Nebraska strength coach James Dobson. (Is it just me, or does everyone heap praise on Dobson?)

"I'm doing everything that current Nebraska players are doing for their offseason workouts," Amukamara said. "Every season I entered since coming to Nebraska, I felt like I was in the best shape of my life. So I really trust (Dobson's) workout regimen."

Prince mainly works out with ex-Huskers Roy Helu (a fourth-round pick by Washington), DeJon Gomes (fifth, Washington) and Eric Hagg (seventh, Cleveland).

Meanwhile, Suh has been "in and out" of Lincoln this offseason, Amukamara said. Prince often picks Suh's brain. That's a wise move. Suh comes off a fabulous rookie season with Detroit. The former NU defensive tackle helps younger players understand the business side of the NFL.

"He's just always taught us to take caution on which people you let in your circle," Amukamara said. "He always preaches the importance of work ethic and doing the little things -- just basically being a student of the game. One thing I really took from him is that whatever you do on and off the field, act like a pro."

What exactly does that mean to Prince?

"We're put up on a pedestal and everyone is looking at us, so we should carry ourselves as professionals," Amukamara said. "Don't make dumb mistakes."

The takeaway here is that Amukamara, despite his relative youth, could be regarded as an excellent role model for NFL players who might be becoming antsy and irritable. Prince clearly is trying to make the best of the situation. Indeed, he speaks passionately about all he learned at last week's NFL rookie symposium in Bradenton, Fla.

A speech by Edwards, a former NFL head coach and current ESPN analyst, left the biggest impression.

"He said to always get just one of everything -- one (piece of) jewelry, one house, one car, and, most importantly, just one wife or girlfriend," Amukamara said.

He sounds poised and ready for the season to begin, the real competition, as opposed to negotiators' backroom wrangling over free-agency rules and other elements of collective bargaining.

"It's definitely a situation that I can't control, so I don't pay too much attention to it," he said. "But I am fully aware that it is affecting me. I just have to trust the NFLPA (players association) and the owners that a deal is going to get done and football will be played this season.

"It is unfortunate that it had to happen this year. But it boils down to some adversity that this year's rookie class will have to overcome."
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