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Giants' Umenyiora trying to avoid controversy during offseason

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- While Osi Umenyiora is doing his best to not upset the New York Giants, it's obvious the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end and his coaches still haven't agreed on his role for next season.

Speaking during a break in the Giants' offseason workout program Thursday, Umenyiora eight times refused to comment when asked about his role next season, a lingering hip injury, competing for a starting job, his hints about retirement or wanting a trade.

For now, Umenyiora is content to get ready for next season and keep whatever is bothering him to himself.

He didn't do that after a frustrating 8-8 season -- for the team and Umenyiora -- ended last year. The seven-year veteran upset general manager Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin by wondering aloud whether he had played his final game as a Giant and saying he wanted to be guaranteed a starting job, which Coughlin refused to do.

"I can't sit over here and give you the robotical mundane answers," Umenyiora said after being told that his rash of no comments might indicate that he is unhappy.

"If you ask me a question, I really feel I should say exactly how I feel, and I think saying how I feel is really a foolish thing," he added. "To come out and say what I feel publicly has gotten me in a lot of trouble with the team. It's gotten me in a lot of trouble with the fans. And I think it's setting a bad example for my teammates. I think it's not the right thing to do."

Umenyiora said he has spoken with Reese and Coughlin in recent weeks, but he declined to disclose what was said. He has met briefly with new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and said he is excited about playing for him.

"I'll never be a problem here," Umenyiora said. "I have too much respect for the organization and I just love my teammates."

Umenyiora started 11 games last season and finished with 29 tackles and a team-high seven sacks.

What many people forget is that Umenyiora missed the entire 2008 season after suffering a major injury to his left knee during a preseason game against the New York Jets.

Umenyiora insisted all last season that his surgically repaired knee never gave him a problem. He amended that thought Thursday.

"I thought I was 100 percent last year," Umenyiora said. "But to be honest with you, only until about a month ago when I was outside doing some pass-rushing drills and I was like, 'Oh, now I'm really 100 percent,' because I felt strong, my legs felt a lot stronger than they did last year.

"But mentally you can pretty much tell yourself a lot of things," Umenyiora said. "Last year, I think mentally I was telling myself I was 100 percent when in actuality I don't think I was."

Umenyiora admits he must be better against the run and return to a more physical style. Too many times last season, he made a quick upfield move and left a hole for opposing offenses to exploit.

The upside for Umenyiora is that he has watched films of how the Buffalo Bills' defense played last season when Fewell was their coordinator and interim head coach.

"He's a really cool guy, very energetic," Umenyiora said. "I liked him a lot. The scheme he is trying to run best suits the players that we have over here, and I am looking forward to that. I think it's a good scheme for me."

The scheme has an attack philosophy. Rarely do the defensive ends drop back in pass coverage, which the Giants did occasionally with Bill Sheridan as their coordinator last season.

"It's going to be a very good season," Umenyiora said. "The Giants are going to have a tremendous season, and I think, me personally, I think I will have an outstanding season, at least that's what a fortune teller told me."

With that, Umenyiora smiled, adding he always smiles.

"I have no plans of going anywhere else," he said. "I would hate not to be here. I really, really enjoy it here. I love these guys."

Notes: RBs Brandon Jacobs (knee) and Ahmad Bradshaw (both feet and left ankle) are progressing well after offseason surgery. ... Fourth-year LB Gerris Wilkinson is moving from the outside to the middle to offer Jonathan Goff some competition. Last year's starter, Antonio Pierce, was released after the season. ... Second-year OT Will Beatty is being given a shot at David Diehl's job at left tackle. Diehl welcomes the competition and is guaranteed a starting job somewhere on the line. ... DE Justin Tuck admitted he was limited by a shoulder injury last season and had surgery to fix it.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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