EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants defense is aiming to make a major comeback in 2013. And cornerback Prince Amukamara plans to be a big part of it.
"I really want to be the No. 1 corner on this team, and I feel like right now Corey [Webster] is, and my goal is to always just try to beat him out," Amukamara said Thursday, after the team's last official practice before training camp in late July. "And I think as soon as I establish myself as the No. 1 corner [on the team], then hopefully just become the No. 1 corner in the whole league."
That last part is certainly a lofty goal. But Amukamara -- the team's first-round draft pick, 19th overall, in 2011 -- did enter the NFL with great expectations. And he feels very good after going through a full offseason program for the first time since joining the Giants, thanks to the lockout in 2011 and injuries in 2012.
"This was huge, getting those reps that I didn't get last year," Amukamara said. "I'm an athlete where I have to actually be in it to learn, rather than read and write it out."
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has been impressed by Amukamara's performance over the past few weeks. "His skill set is much improved," Fewell said Thursday. "I see a nice confidence in him right now."
If Amukamara can finally emerge as the shutdown corner the Giants had hoped he would be, that would make a big difference, after a very disappointing year in 2012.
The Giants offense didn't live up to expectations. But the defense was much worse -- ranked 31st in the league (out of 32), giving up an average of 383.4 yards per game.
Fewell is also hoping for a bounce-back year from Webster, who had a subpar season in 2012, giving up big plays in several games. But Fewell was hesitant to read too much into what he saw during OTAs and minicamp, when the players aren't even in pads.
"I do know that he’s coming back with a purpose," Fewell said of Webster. "So it will be fun to see him come back in the fall."
Webster said Thursday that the defense paid more attention to detail during its offseason work this year, and has tried to improve upon its communication.
"We had a lot of errors all across the field [last year] -- everywhere, coaches, players, the whole strategy," Webster said. "We're correcting those mistakes, those communication errors, those misplays. We eliminate them now, and not go into the season trying to eliminate them."
Fewell said he took a new approach when installing the defense this spring.
"We went about it in a different way -- we tried to do it more efficiently and more effectively," Fewell said. "How we communicated -- we tried to do that more efficiently and more effectively. And just getting some input from them -- about what we did well and what we didn't do well, so that we’re all speaking the same language and doing the same thing."
Will it work? We'll find out, starting with training camp, which commences July 26. Fewell will be on the hot seat if his unit doesn't show improvement. And he knows it.
"I always have something to prove. I think we as a football team have something to prove."