Clint Sintim's watershed moment

Newark Star-Ledger beat man Mike Garafolo always has the good sense to leave behind a batch of "summer questionnaires" when he goes on an extended summer vacation. Earlier today, he rolled out an intriguing interview with Giants starting strongside linebacker Clint Sintim, who was somewhat of a letdown in his rookie season. Sintim said there was one particular moment in the season that caused him to have a "negative" reaction:

"Not dressing the New Orleans game (in Week 6)," Sintim told Garafolo. "I was healthy [after a groin injury kept him out of the first four games] and I didn’t dress. I didn’t handle that well. I didn’t really understand why I wasn’t dressing. I didn’t understand the way everything worked, and I wanted to play. That was one of the moments I realized nothing’s really given and you have to earn it.

Asked whether he was frustrated with a coach or another player, Sintim responded, "Not anybody in particular. I just didn’t really own up to why I wasn’t dressing. Instead of saying, ‘Well, what do I need to do to be a better player?’ it was more like, ‘What is that guy doing that he’s playing ahead of me?’ That was one of those times where I learned and understood for me to be the player I want to be I have to not let things like that happen."

There's a good chance the Giants could have a second-year player (Sintim) and a rookie (Phillip Dillard) starting at linebacker next to veteran Michael Boley. Sintim could blame last season on inexperience, but he won't have any excuses this season. Coach Tom Coughlin and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell expect him to be a playmaker.

I think he might be in the running for the NFC East's breakout player of the season -- if we had such a thing.