Tuck's quiet leadership a departure from vocal Strahan, Pierce

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When it comes to being defensive captain of the New York Giants, Justin Tuck takes a much different approach than either Michael Strahan or Antonio Pierce.

Besides being outstanding players, Tuck's predecessors were vocal leaders. They would stand in the middle of the team in pre-game huddles and tell everyone what was expected that day.

Tuck, who was chosen the defensive captain this season, is nothing like that. He's an insightful, quiet guy who likes to take things in, lead by example and talk when he has something to say.

"In today's generation, guys are so accustomed to hearing themselves speak," Tuck said. "I like to go out on the football field and lay my heart, body and soul on the line for my teammates. I would rather lead by example rather than lead by talking. Like I said, I am going to figure out a way to be the leader that this team needs me to be and we'll move forward."

Tuck's role as the captain of the defense took a hit this week when safety Antrel Rolle questioned the team's leadership ability in a radio interview after an embarrassing 38-14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Rolle was miffed with the way the Giants performed and then reacted to the drubbing, saying the players didn't show enough attitude or anger after having their butts "whupped."

Tuck says Rolle should have talked to him before going public. He said the two will talk.

"If he's got a problem with how I lead, that's fine," Tuck said. "That's his opinion. I mean, none of us are perfect. I'm not going to sit here and tell you I'm the best leader. When I make a mistake, I own up to it. And obviously against the Colts, we didn't do a good job in leadership because the score reflected that."

Tuck insisted Thursday that the Giants (1-1) will get things straightened out heading into Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans (1-1).

Looking back on the loss to the Colts, Tuck said he would have huddled the defense immediately after Indianapolis scored on its opening drive because he realized the unit was flat. He didn't do it, so it goes down as a learning experience.

Now in his sixth season, Tuck believes he has evolved as a leader, learning first from Strahan and then Pierce.

"I like to sit back and watch things for a while and get familiar with my surroundings before I try to lead," Tuck said. "I like to lead from the back sometimes and then step up front. You have to understand what is going on before you step up front and say things."

Tuck's biggest concern is that the players remain united. He saw the locker room divide in 2006 and it turned into a disappointing season.

After getting blown out in their opening two games in 2007, the Giants staged a remarkable late goal-line stand in the third game of the season against Washington. It sparked a wave of momentum that helped them to a stunning Super Bowl championship.

"We're 1-1, so it's kind of comical to me that we are discussing this now," Tuck said. "I am a leader and I am a captain and I'll address and do my best to rectify the wrong."

Tuck believes there is plenty of room for other players to step up and lead, particularly with veterans such as Rolle, Deon Grant, Keith Bulluck, Mathias Kiwanuka and Osi Umenyiora on the defense alone.

Tuck, who had a captains meeting with Coughlin, quarterback Eli Manning and linebacker Chase Blackburn after practice Thursday, said he plans to talk with the offense, defense and special teams before the Titans game.

"You have to be who you are," Tuck said. "No matter if I was No. 53 on the roster or No. 1 on the roster, you have to be who you are. I am not going to change because I got a 'C' on my chest. I am going to go out there and lay it on the line for my teammates."

Notes: Center Shaun O'Hara (right ankle/Achilles' tendon) did not practice for the second straight day.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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