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Amukamara says Dennard will pan out for Patriots

BOYS TOWN, Neb. (AP) - New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara says his old Nebraska teammate Alfonzo Dennard has the ability to be a seventh-round steal for the New England Patriots.

Amukamara and Dennard formed one of the best cornerback combinations in college football in 2010. The Super Bowl champion Giants picked Amukamara in the first round last year.

Dennard had been projected as high as a second-round pick before getting arrested for allegedly punching a police officer in Lincoln five days before the start of last week's NFL draft. Dennard faces a third-degree felony assault charge.

Dennard will be out to prove doubters wrong when he hits the practice field for the Patriots, Amukamara said Tuesday.

"Alfonzo is a very cheerful guy, and he likes to make the best out of situations," Amukamara said. "He has the hungry mentality that he's going to go in and work hard and just put everything in the Patriots' hands."

Amukamara and another of his Nebraska teammates, Washington Redskins running back Roy Helu Jr., appeared at an evening athletic booster banquet for Boys Town, the nationally acclaimed home for troubled youth near Omaha.

Amukamara and Dennard started 22 games together in 2009-10 and combined for nine interceptions and 39 pass breakups. The 2010 Cornhuskers ranked third nationally in pass efficiency defense.

Dennard's fall to the seventh round after his arrest prompted Amukamara to send him a text a few days ago.

"I just told him I know this isn't where you want to get picked, but you know what you can do and we know what you can do, so just prove (doubters) wrong," Amukamara said.

Dennard's arrest outside a Lincoln bar surprised Amukamara because it was out of character.

"I didn't think it was a true story," Amukamara said. "I got a lot of calls and texts. The only way I was going to know if it was true was if I saw it on Google. I googled it and it came up, and I just couldn't believe it. I know he has good people around him, so he should be handling it pretty well."

Amukamara is recovering from the broken bone in his left foot stained in the second practice of training camp last year. He said he had a procedure last month to speed the healing. The injury limited him to seven games as a rookie.

"I was already (behind) with the lockout, so the adversity kept building and building," he said. "I didn't get to play until November, and when I got my first pick, that gave me a little bit of assurance that this is where I belong."

The fact the Giants used a third-round pick to draft a cornerback, Virginia Tech's Jayron Hosley, doesn't raise a red flag to Amukamara.

"Competition is great," he said. "I trust our GM who made the picks, and I saw him play. That guy is a playmaker and we do need playmakers on our team."

Quarterback Eli Manning, who also won a Super Bowl in February 2008, has been trying to motivate his Giants teammates to make a run at becoming the first repeat champions since the Patriots in 2003-04 seasons.

"Eli has already set the tone," Amukamara said, "and just been telling everybody that last year is last year and this year is a new year, and everybody is going to be gunning for us and just be prepared."

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