ALBANY, N.Y. -- Second-year defensive tackle Marvin Austin said the last two years have been a long road for him.
He was suspended for his senior season in 2010 because of North Carolina's NCAA agent scandal. Once a first-round prospect, Austin fell to the Giants in the second round. He then missed his rookie season last year after tearing a pectoral muscle in a preseason game.
Austin, though, remains upbeat, optimistic and feels privileged to be in the NFL. He said his time away from football wasn’t too tough because he had a lot of people supporting him.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Austin said. “I’m sure that reason will be a great one.”
The Giants were thrilled to get Austin in the second round. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said he adds a new dimension to the defensive line with his speed and quickness at 312 pounds.
Austin is working with the second team in practice and has been soaking up wisdom from veterans such as Shaun Rogers, Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard. He said he’s grateful for those guys and happy to be competing with Pro Bowl caliber players on what he called the No. 1 defensive line in the NFL.
He’s not at all upset with being a reserve.
“I was just talking to some of the guys about that the other day, about how a lot of guys, younger guys who come into the league, decent draft status or class or whatever, and they have a lot of expectations and they want to start and this and that, but sometimes you got these guys who are very, very good players,” Austin said. “Obviously, that’s [defensive line coordinator Robert Nunn’s] decision who's going to start or not, but it doesn’t matter to me as long as I go out there and I get a chance to play because opportunity is everything. If I get an opportunity to go out there and perform, I can go show what I can do, so it doesn’t bother me at all.”
Nunn said last week that Austin has been off to a good start in camp and is in “very good condition.” He wants Austin to concentrate on technique and the preseason games will provide a better picture of where he is at this point.
Nunn said Austin hasn’t lost the quickness they saw at North Carolina.
“He’s very sudden, coming off the ball. He shows some strength and power,” Nunn said. “When we get into live, bullets start being fired, it’s really going to be the test of where he is right now. In all of our drills, everything we’re doing out there, our team situations are ... It’s not live, but it’s as close as you can get to being live. I’m pleased with where he is.”
Austin is itching to get back into game action in the preseason opener at Jacksonville Friday night. He doesn’t so much mind the limited contact during training camp, but he wants to get out and hit someone who's not his teammate.
“Most of the running backs, you know you can take them down,” he said. “What are you going to get out of slamming your running back who you outweigh by 110 pounds? There’s no fun in that -- but somebody else? Of course -- I can’t wait.”