Barry Cofield Ready For Giant Role
This story appeared on page B1 of Friday’s Free Lance-Star
ASHBURN–When Barry Cofield steps on the field for the first time Sunday before the Washington Redskins’ season-opener against the New York Giants, there’s not going to be much in terms of warm welcomes and hearty greetings for his former teammates.
“I’ll hug everybody,” Cofield said. “Everybody on the roster gets a hug.”
The 6-foot-4, 306-pound nose tackle signed a six-year, $36 million contract to join the Redskins when the five-month owners lockout ended, spurning the boys in blue after five years in New York.
Cofield played in all but one game for the Giants since being chosen in the fourth round out of Northwestern in the 2006 NFL draft, and in that time period missed only one start.
How he left the Giants wasn’t something Cofield wanted to get into this week, saying only that the Redskins made what he called a “great” contract offer.
He knew his time with the team was likely up, however, after he was nearly traded the year before and the team drafted Marvin Austin in the second round in April.
“When a team makes moves like that, you know the financial frames that they had, with the cap going back,” Cofield said. “With the free agents that we had, you know that my position was probably stocked the most. The cupboard would certainly not be bare without me.”
Cofield took a moderate risk by agreeing to a deal with the Redskins, who run a 3-4 base defense as opposed to the Giants’ 4-3. That meant a shift from left defensive tackle to nose tackle, which was a move that Cofield has adjusted to well.
He’s been particularly disruptive in the pass rush, including in the Redskins’ second preseason game at Baltimore, when he broke through the line to hit quarterback Curtis Painter twice and also deflected a pass.
That was a surprise to many within the Redskins organization, who simply saw Cofield as a run stopper and as someone who could eat up blocks by the opponents’ interior line.
“He was tremendously important, whether that be on the rush unit or the first- and second-down unit,” said Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, who started alongside Cofield for the past three seasons. “I think with Barry, you just consider him as one of those complete defensive tackles. He’s one of those guys that a lot of our rush stuff is predicated on. He’s smart enough not to miss a beat with that. He was pretty good at that.”
The Giants defense has been depleted by injuries this preseason. Cornerback Terrell Thomas and linebacker Clint Sintim each tore an ACL and will miss the year, as will Austin, who tore his left pectoral muscle. Fellow rookie Prince Amukamara is out at least another month with a broken foot, defensive end Osi Umenyiora will not play Sunday with a knee injury, and Tuck missed practice yesterday for the first time with a neck injury.
That makes Cofield’s loss an even larger problem for the Giants.
“Barry was an outstanding player for us for a lot of years and very smart, very efficient, very strong,” Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said. “He did everything you asked him to do. He was a great anticipator, so when you lose a player of that quality, especially a guy like Barry you know well–that’s part of the system.”
One of the toughest parts of leaving New York for Cofield was abandoning the relationships he’s forged with several Giants players.
Tuck may be receptive to a hug after the game, but he’s hoping his own on-field success allows him to poke fun at his friend and former teammate.
“I’m just going to make sure that I do his sack dance before he does,” Tuck said.