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Antonio Pierce: Giants' Justin Tuck not the same player

Part of the New York Giants' problem in 2012 has been the average play of the defensive line. The defense is based on that front four having the advantage on a weekly basis, but that hasn't been the case for two-time Pro Bowler Justin Tuck.

Tuck has just three sacks in 2012 and hasn't been the same player that posted three double-digit sacks seasons between 2007-10.

"I played with Justin Tuck and have a tremendous respect for him. But he has not been the same player emotionally, mentally or his play in the last three years. It's just the facts," former Giant Antonio Pierce said Friday on ESPN 98.7 FM on Friday, via ESPN New York. "He came on late last season and once Antrel Rolle and a couple of other guys said he had to pick it up, but for the most part, he's a situation, third-down, passing situation defensive end."

Everyone declines at some point and Tuck is in his eighth year in the NFL. It's not a surprise that there would be a difference between the 29-year-old Tuck and the 24-year-old version.

But his decline has contributed to the decline of the defense.

"For me, the guy I played with, when he was there, a lot of energy, a lot of passion, brought it each and every play, each and every snap, loved to play the game," Pierce said. "I heard him mention it last year before the run (that) he didn't know where his mind was at, or if he was into the game. His comments this week, the same thing. As much as I want to give the answer, that's really a question he has to answer.

"When you watch him on Sundays, you do not see the energy, you do not see the fire he used to play with. And I don't know why. I don't know if it's personal stuff going on or maybe he's physically tired."

Tuck has dealt with an injured shoulder, but that can't be the only cause of his funk. If the Giants are going to turn it on and go on a run, they'll need Tuck to turn back the clock a few years.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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