Commentary

Bulluck in an AFC South state of mind

New Giant will be right at home facing Manning's Colts before reunion with Titans

Updated: September 15, 2010, 5:40 PM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

Keith BulluckJim O'Connor/US Presswire"I am starting to embrace it," Keith Bulluck says of his change of scenery.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Keith Bulluck switched teams and had to learn a new defense, new terminology, new teammates and even a new position, only to switch back to his old one.

For more than a month, Bulluck has spent much of his time trying to get adjusted to his new surroundings. But after starting in the season opener against Carolina, Bulluck feels like he is truly a New York Giant. And things will start to feel a lot more familiar to him over the next two weeks.

On Sunday night, Bulluck will do something he has done twice a season for much of the past decade -- face Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Bulluck might know Manning better than any Giant outside Eli Manning and Peyton's longtime former backup, Jim Sorgi, who is now on the Giants' injured reserve list.

[+] EnlargeKeith Bulluck
AP Photo/Evan PinkusKeith Bulluck was in the starting lineup for the season opener, a
31-18 victory over the Panthers.

The following week, Bulluck will be reunited with the Titans, who opted not to re-sign him after a decade.

But first comes his former divisional foe, Peyton Manning.

"I've played him so much that I know what he is trying to do," said Bulluck, who had started 127 consecutive regular-season games before tearing his ACL last December and missing the last two games of the year. "I know what he is trying to do based upon how their offense works. It is just a matter of stopping it."

The Giants' defense will have to completely switch gears after focusing much of its effort on stopping Carolina's powerful rushing attack. After holding the Panthers' tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to a combined 74 yards rushing, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell will have to concoct a way to slow down Manning and the Colts' high-octane passing attack.

Considering that the Colts are coming off a loss to Houston, the Giants will be walking into a hostile situation in Indianapolis for the Colts' home opener, which will also be televised before a national audience on Sunday night.

Fewell has made it clear, though, that he wants to attack offenses with multiple looks and wrinkles. Fewell started defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka at outside linebacker alongside middle linebacker Jonathan Goff and Bulluck to throw a more physical and bigger defense at Carolina's ground game. The Giants also played three safeties often instead of an extra cornerback.

Michael Boley, who normally starts at outside linebacker but was replaced by Kiwanuka in the lineup, said to expect more of the unexpected. Not only do opposing offenses have to get used to seeing different lineups, but the regular Giants starters will have to get accustomed to potential weekly lineup changes.

"It is a coin toss as far as what is going to happen week in and week out," said Boley, who had four tackles against Carolina and will likely see plenty of playing time against the Colts due to his coverage skills. "Just by the different things we can do, [Giants coaches] can switch it up and keep things interesting.

"Offenses do it," Boley added. "Why can't we? Kind of throw something different at them every week, not just us always seeing a new look."

Nobody in the NFL is better at throwing more looks at a defense than Manning, the NFL's best maestro at the line of scrimmage.

Bulluck might welcome seeing Manning again after adjusting to a new team, learning Fewell's schemes and switching positions late in camp all while coming off knee surgery last December. It will feel like old times.

"When you go from one team for 10 years to another team, it is not always that easy," said Bulluck, who assisted on two tackles on Sunday. "Being out there in the first real game and being with my teammates and starting to get comfortable, I am starting to embrace it.

"After the game, I really felt like a New York Giant," he added. "I gained a lot of confidence. Going out there and playing with no hitches, hiccups, no hesitation, feeling good, running around ... now it is a matter of putting myself in position to make plays."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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