“W call him Young Os,” Umenyiora said of the third-year defensive end. “He’s doing a phenomenal job. I love the way he plays and prepares. He’s always willing to learn, he’s always with me training afterwards, working on different things. You hear him asking questions and he’s willing to get better. It’s very good to see a young guy like that performing the way he’s performing.”
Tracy did an excellent Umenyiora impression against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday night when he had a strip-sack against Blaine Gabbert that was recovered by Jason Pierre-Paul in the second quarter.
Tracy was drafted as a defensive end in the sixth round out of William & Mary in 2010. The Giants converted him to linebacker, a position he played the past two seasons, before switching him back to defensive end this year.
After missing his rookie season due to injury and spending last season on the practice squad, Tracy is trying to replace the departed Dave Tollefson at backup defensive end.
He admitted to having trouble adjusting to the linebacker position but said the process helped him mature and grow. He agreed that being back at defensive end gave him a better feeling of control on the field.
“It felt good. I knew my assignment,” Tracy said. “I knew my alignment in what I was supposed to do and what was required of me. Sometimes it may not have happened as I had hoped or the coaches had hoped, but I think that’s the biggest thing; was knowing what you’re doing and getting in line and just going to play ball.”
Mathias Kiwanuka plays a hybrid linebacker/defensive end position and said he has sat down with Tracy to talk a few times.
“He’s a mentally tough individual and he’s a hell of a player, so I don’t have any concern about whether or not he’ll adjust to it,” Kiwanuka said.
Head coach Tom Coughlin said Tracy’s performance Friday was encouraging.
“I look forward to him gaining a little more sophistication and knowledge about what we need for him to do and his recognition and reaction from what the offense is trying to do to him,” Coughlin said in a conference call Saturday.
Tracy said it helps a lot having teammates like Umenyiora and Justin Tuck to learn from.
“I think the biggest thing is that they have the experience and they’ve been to the top of the mountain,” Tracy said. “I’m always in Osi’s and Tuck’s ear asking them questions about run and pass plays and seeing what I can do better in both of those areas.”
Tracy and Umenyiora also share similar physical builds -- Tracy is 6-2, 245 pounds while Umenyiora is at 6-3, 255.
But who’s faster?
“I plead the fifth,” Tracy cracked.