Umenyiora says Strahan threat serious; team starts fines

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The chances that seven-time Pro Bowler Michael Strahan will play for the New York Giants this season are a lot better than Osi Umenyiora moving from right end to left end to replace him.

After chatting a couple of times with Strahan over the past few days, Umenyiora said Monday that his 35-year-old friend's holdout wasn't a joke and that he was seriously considering retirement after 14 NFL season.

"I know what he is telling me, and it's still 50-50 whether he is going to come back," Umenyiora said Monday.

With the holdout now in its fourth day, the Giants on Monday informed Strahan through his agent, Tony Agnone, that he would be fined $14,288 for every day of camp he misses retroactive to Friday, the day the team reported to the University at Albany.

Agnone did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

The team confirmed that if Strahan does retire, the fines will not be assessed.

Umenyiora refused to discuss the reasons Strahan gave for contemplating retirement, but he advised him to come return for another season.

"Of course, I am going to tell him to come back," said Umenyiora, who went to the Pro Bowl with Strahan in 2005. "I am going to tell him to come back every day because as a person, as a human being, I like being around the guy. He is a good friend of mine."

If Strahan doesn't come back, the Giants will have to consider other options. One might be signing veteran Simeon Rice, whose 121 career sacks rank second to Strahan (132½) among active players.

Rice was released by Tampa Bay last week after failing a physical because of a shoulder problem.

The Giants plan to give Rice a physical on Wednesday. He would then go through a workout to decide whether the team will sign him.

Umenyiora said the proposed move didn't seem to resonate with the rest of the Giants.

"I mean we're not talking about Julius Peppers," Umenyiora said. "Simeon Rice, he is an outstanding pass rusher, but that's what he is."

Rice has been criticized for being soft against the run. Signing him would also create the problem of where to play him. Rice can't play the left end because that is where the majority of the opposition's running plays go.

Umenyiora was adamant he was not going to move to the left side so Rice could play the right end.

"I'm a right end," Umenyiora said. "I have been successful at right end. I don't feel the need to move to a different position, that's kind of crazy if you ask me. Ask me to move to left defensive end because Simeon Rice is here? It's ridiculous."

When told that Strahan moved to left end early in his career, Umenyiora got defensive.

"Michael was never successful as a right defensive end," he said. "He wasn't if you look at his play. When they moved him to left defensive end, that's when he blew up because he is a natural left defensive end. I don't think you can make that argument with me."

Ironically, Strahan also balked at moving to the left side.

"I am not going to move to left defensive end if they sign Simeon Rice," Umenyiora insisted. "That's what I'm telling you. If the team asks me, 'We need you to move to left defensive end because we need you at that position,' I will. But I will not move to left defensive end because Simeon Rice is coming in."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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