Osi Umenyiora was thrilled with what he saw.
The two-time Super Bowl champion, a jet-quick Giants pass rusher, was not referring to the final record of 6-10 in Joe Judge’s first year as head coach. It was the way the team played, from beginning to end, that impressed Umenyiora, and that is what he told this year’s team during a training camp visit this week.
“They played with a lot of heart, they played the whole way through,’’ Umenyiora said Tuesday while standing on the patio overlooking practice at the Giants’ facility. “In this day and age that’s a very difficult thing to do. It’s really easy to stop or quit nowadays and the fact they didn’t have that in them reminded me of a certain coach we played for.’’
That Umenyiora, 39, sees some of Tom Coughlin in Judge is telling. Coughlin was an assistant with the Giants for Bill Parcells and always stressed the tradition inherent in the franchise. Judge arrived last year and did the same. He is upping the ante in year No. 2.
He wants those guys around.
“Some organizations, you kind of come and go,’’ Judge said. “This is one of the different ones where history matters, history carries over. In terms of former players coming back here, if anyone hasn’t heard my voice yet, I hope they hear it now, I want them back. I want them here, I want them involved with our team, I want them here at practice, I want them in meetings, I want them around our players, I want our players to understand the pressure they should have on them from past players who achieved great things here. I want these guys in this program. They were here before us and the history of this program will go on after we’re gone here.’’
Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka were on the premises Monday, taping segments for the 10th anniversary of the Super Bowl 46 victory over the Patriots. Judge had the three former pass rushers address his team.
“He’s more open to allow former players to come back,’’ Umenyiora said. “He seems to encourage that, he wants to discuss, he wants to get people’s input, he wants all the guys around who helped make the team special. A lot of coaches don’t do that, they don’t understand tradition or too much care about all that stuff. The fact he does, the fact he shows that kind of respect is going to pay dividends. People don’t forget that.’’
After the message from the former players, Umenyiora said safety Logan Ryan asked about leadership and Saquon Barkley and Judge also asked questions. Linebacker Lorenzo Carter sought out Umenyiora for a few private words.
Ryan was involved in an altercation Tuesday that triggered a team-wide brawl, incensing Judge.
“If our nucleus and key veterans are together, the locker room will follow,’’ Ryan said. “Just like the great defensive linemen and great linebackers and great leaders of this team in the past. You don’t think they had chippiness and you don’t think they had griminess about them? We’re playing in Jersey. There’s going to be chippiness and griminess but we’re leaving it between the lines.
“If I learned anything from those veterans who came in and spoke about winning locker rooms, you need a tough locker room.’’