Not that Michael Strahan is about to relinquish his starting job to someone younger and faster, but the face of the New York Giants' defense is taking stock of his important role as a mentor as he enters his 13th season.
"We have a lot of young guys who are eventually going to have to play," Strahan said at the start of training camp. "I've got to make sure they know what they are doing. I'm not necessarily trying to take the coach's job. Trust me. But if you see something, you correct a guy."
Strahan has a Hall of Fame resume at defensive end that includes a single-season record 221/2 sacks in 2001 and six Pro Bowl appearances. He also is coming back from surgery on his pectoral muscle. The injury forced the durable Strahan to miss the final eight games last season. He had not missed a game previously since 1996.
The Giants struggled in his absence, losing seven of their final eight games and allowing 23 or more points in six of those games.
How Strahan performs this season after the injury will go a long way in determining the fortunes of the rest of the defense. Kendrick Clancy, signed as a free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers, will start at tackle next to Strahan. Tackle Fred Robbins and end Osi Umenyiora finished last season as starters on the right side and are back this year.
The most significant addition is middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, who emerged last season with the Washington Redskins. Cornerbacks Will Allen and William Peterson lead the secondary.