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Bears CB Prince Amukamara returns to MetLife Stadium this weekend where his NFL career began as the Giants’ first-round pick (19th overall) in 2011.
Amukamara got off on the wrong foot in New York, so to speak, when he fractured his left foot in training camp and missed the first nine games of the season. But it ended well. The Nebraska product rebounded to play in the final seven regular-season games and all four playoff games, including the Super Bowl XLVI victory over the Patriots.
Amukamara has not played in a postseason game since then, but considering the Bears’ 8-3 record, he’s got an excellent chance to get back to the postseason this year.
“That first year was huge,” he recalled. “Definitely a year I’m not going to forget. And yeah, I was spoiled. I thought every year was going to be like that, and it wasn’t. But I’m just grateful for the (Giants) taking a chance on me over there, and the G.M., Jerry Reese, and scouts Mark Ross and them. I definitely had a lot of great times there.”
After five years with the Giants, Amukamara rolled the dice on one-year deals with the Jaguars in 2016 and the Bears in 2017 before he secured the long-term deal he was seeking this past offseason, signing a three-year, $27-million deal that included $18 million in guaranteed money.
If the Bears can get past his former team, which is scuffling along at 3-8, he’ll have all but locked up a return to the playoffs. So, while going back is significant, it’s not really a revenge game but more about continuing what the Bears have going this year.
“It’s going to be the first time I’ve played against them since leaving,” Amukamara said. “But it’s been three years, so I wouldn’t say it’s going to be special. I really am looking at it as the next game, and I’m excited for what we’re trying to accomplish here.”
The 29-year-old Amukamara is a big part of what the Bears have built and figures to be for at least two more years. He’s tied for third on the team with two interceptions, tied for third with six pass breakups and is fourth with 46 tackles, proving his mettle as a solid cover corner unafraid to stick his nose in to support vs. the run.
Amukamara sees similarities between that Giants defense that keyed the Super Bowl run in 2011 and the current Bears defense.
“One thing that was huge for us when we were with the Giants was we had a great defensive line that attacked the quarterback,” he said. “It’s obvious that we have that here, and that made my job easier when I played with the Giants, and it’s making my job a lot easier here.”
Amukamara will have one of the toughest assignments on Sunday, when he matches up with the Giants’ perennial Pro Bowl WR Odell Beckham, whose first two seasons with New York overlapped with Amukamara’s last two.
“Odell’s easily top five, top three, top two receiver in the league,” Amukamara said. “He’s definitely a competitor. He’s as good as advertised, and we’ve had our (practice field) battles when I was in New York, and I’m looking forward to this one also.
“It’s tough. He really doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses because he’s fast as heck and he can jump out of the gym. My game is always to try to disrupt timing at the line, (I’m) a press guy, and I try to press every play of the game, so I’m not going to do anything different.”