It’s been a year since Giants defensive tackle Marvin Austin dressed to play in a game. The 2011 second-round pick made two preseason appearances before tearing his pectoral muscle and ending up on the IR as a rookie.
“Putting on a game uniform feels different from practice gear,” he told CBSSports.com.
Austin hasn’t missed a single practice for the Giants in training camp, but the past few weeks in Albany. N.Y., represent the most he’s been able to do with his teammates as a professional. Even going back to his college days -- Austin was dismissed from the North Carolina Tar Heels for receiving improper benefits in 2010 -- it's been a long time since the 6-2, 312-pound lineman has seen live bullets.
And since Austin was an inexperienced rookie who had been denied minicamp and OTAs because of the lockout in 2011, Friday’s exhibition against the Jacksonville Jaguars is really a chance to make a first impression with Giants fans.
“It is a coming out party in the sense that I’m going against different guys and showcasing my explosiveness and that stuff the coaches have been talking about,” Austin said, adding that defensive line coach Robert Nunn has implored him to slow down and worry about playing within “the scheme of the defense.”
The good news is that Austin is very familiar with that scheme. He was allowed to attend defensive line meetings in 2011, but he wasn’t permitted to practice with the team because he was on IR.
Austin has recovered completely from pectoral surgery and looked fast and powerful at practice, and he’s received some extra reps because of the absence of veteran Chris Canty, who is on PUP because of a knee injury. (Austin said increased snap count has helped his endurance.)
Austin has also benefitted from the addition of veteran Shaun Rogers, who is primarily known as a run stuffer. However, Austin said Rogers has been refining his pass-rushing techniques throughout camp.
“He’s showing me different moves and different counter moves and stuff like that,” Austin said, adding that Canty has taught him patience and playing within the scheme.
The primary difference between a preseason and a regular season game for Austin is that he hasn’t been scouting any individual Jaguars offensive lineman in anticipation of the game. The defense has gone over some broad schemes, but the week leading up to the first preseason game has been more about self-correction than anything else.
Of course, when the whistle blows on Friday, Austin won’t care about those kinds of distinctions.
“Football is what I like to do, so I’m going to have fun.”
Austin’s fun should probably last for the second and third quarters, although he could get rotated in sooner.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll be playing a decent amount given that I haven’t played in a while,” he said before laughing and adding, “But that’s just my thoughts.”
For now, Austin said he’s done a good job of keeping himself calm. He’s obviously excited to play Friday, but he’s trying to remain disciplined and professional. If he can do that, he knows the fun will take care of itself.
“It’s about me going out and trying to use the proper technique and, you know, chasing, making tackles and doing technical things right, so when the first game hits, I’m fully prepared to go out and do what the Giants want me to do as a player,” he said.