Prince Amukamara thought it was time.
His jersey and his pads were in his locker. Giants-Patriots was going to be his NFL debut.
But minutes before team stretch, things changed. Amukamara’s stall was empty.
“Yeah, of course,” Amukamara replied Thursday when asked if he was bummed about being inactive. “It was the first time I’d ever traveled.”
The Giants’ first-round pick, who has missed the first eight games of the 2011 season with a foot injury, said he spoke with coach Tom Coughlin on Saturday and got the inclination that he wouldn’t play.
But the 21-year-old cornerback wasn’t certain.
“I like how they don’t tell me, so it makes me prepare like I’m gonna play,” Amukamara said.
Amukamara hopes to play his first pro game on Sunday in San Francisco.
“I am encouraged to have him out here,” Coughlin said. “It is just a question now of what extent can we involve him and the idea of playing him on Sunday. That still has not been clarified for me. He is going to fit in, but I don’t know if he is to the point where he can go play 50 plays or 45 plays.”
Amukamara doesn’t care if he plays defense. He says he’d be happy just to play special teams.
“I think it's the coach's decision. If they see that I'm not ready, all I can do is trust them,” Amukamara said. “I still have a lot to learn, but I think I'm getting it down. It's still day by day.”
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Amukamara has gotten more reps in practice. He said he’s excited to see the Nebraska product out there in a real game.
“I’m very excited with what [cornerbacks coach Peter] Giunta has been doing with him and the progress he’s made and if he can help our football team, obviously I’ll be excited about that,” Fewell said. “He’s making progress every day. We throw a lot at him and he’s been working mentally every day since he’s been injured. Now to put that all into action with the physical reps, we see progress. When Tom gives him the okay, we’ll give him the okay.”
Amukamara continues to get razzed hard by his teammates.
So does Fewell tell his players to go easy on the rookie?
“No. he gets it pretty tough,” Fewell said. “No, we never go easy on him.”
Said Amukamara: “It keeps me humble and shows me that they care.”