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Strahan happy to take back seat to teammate Umenyiora

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Seven-time Pro Bowler Michael Strahan doesn't hesitate to point out how well fellow New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora is playing.

 If Strahan could have gone to Atlanta this week, there is no doubt the NFL's active career sacks leader (133½) would have blabbed about Umenyiora to Falcons coach Bobby Petrino.

He could have detailed everything from Umenyiora's seven sacks to his 19 tackles, 12 quarterback hurries, four quarterback hits and two forced fumbles.

Strahan then could have stated the obvious. If Petrino and his offensive line coach are going to double anyone on Monday night against the Giants (3-2), it should be Umenyiora.

The reality, however, is that through the first five games, opponents still double teamed Strahan most of the time, even though he has only one sack, eight hurries and three QB hits.

Even the 35-year-old Strahan sarcastically admits he should not be double-teammed.

"Being I am the oldest one out there, and the slowest one out there and the weakest one out there and the most pathetic one out there, I would think that they would (double Umenyiora), but that hasn't happened," he said. "I have to take what I can get and work with it."

Strahan and Umenyiora will be facing a very different situation against the Falcons on Monday night. Atlanta lost its two starting tackles to injury and it will start backups Renardo Foster and Tyson Clabo.

"If anything it makes you nervous," Strahan said of the new players. "To be honest I don't have any film on him (Clabo) and it makes you nervous because you know the expectation of what you are supposed to do against someone who is young are so high that I don't know if you can live up to them. It's more nerve-racking than anything else."

The obvious hope is that the Giants have another sack attack like they did two weeks ago against the Philadelphia Eagles, when they tied the league record with a dozen sacks, including a franchise-record six by Umenyiora.

"Hopefully we can do that again, but there are no guarantees," Strahan said. "Anytime you have a performance that good as an individual or a team, those guys are going to do everything they can to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Against Philadelphia, the Eagles made a major mistake by not helping second-year tackle Winston Justice, who was filling in for the injured William Thomas.

The Giants don't expect the Falcons to make the same mistake -- on either side.

In last week's game against the Jets, the cross-town rivals were well aware of both Strahan and Umenyiora. They used balanced protection on both sides of the line, employing their tight end and running backs to help the tackles while sliding the linemen in certain directions to keep the heat off Chad Pennington.

"I don't know what it is, I think they are hell bent on not letting me get that one on one," Strahan said. "But if Osi keeps playing like that they will have no choice."

Strahan, who missed all of training camp while deciding whether he wanted to play or retire, has no regrets about his decision to play.

"I am here to hang out with the guys and have a good time," he said. "Sundays is a chance to fly around and hit somebody. As long as that happens and my body holds up, I am happy."

Even losing the first two games and seeing the defense give up 80 points didn't bother Strahan.

"I knew if we kept plugging away, we would come around and we have so far," Strahan said. "We just have to keep it going."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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