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First Lessons

Sept. 18, 2006
Sept. 18, 2006

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Sept. 18, 2006

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First Lessons

A young Giant learns the secrets to survival

The Giants' topdraft pick, 6'5", 265-pound DE Mathias Kiwanuka, 23, had 37 1/2 sacks atBoston College--and one tackle in his NFL debut

This is an article from the Sept. 18, 2006 issue

THE BIGGESTSURPRISE ABOUT TRAINING CAMP WAS HOW LONG IT IS.

Nothing preparesyou for being smack in the middle of it, when your legs are shot and you thinkthere's no way you can cope with practice, let alone play a game. You have tostay positive--and get in that cold tub every day. A lot of vets told me to dothat. It helps your muscles recover.

I'VE LEARNED ALOT FROM [DES] MICHAEL STRAHAN AND OSI UMENYIORA.

They both had ProBowl years, so I wasn't a threat to them. They give me tips. Strahan and Osiwill say, "Study on film if the tackle usually punches at you with hisoutside or inside hand, so you know which of his hands to chop at and which wayto go." They're coaches out there--if I repeatedly make the same mistakes,they get mad.

I'VE GOTTEN ONCOACH [TOM] COUGHLIN'S BAD SIDE ONCE.

I don't know whatI was doing--watching film or lifting or something--but I was running behindfor practice. I got halfway to the field and realized I was still in asweatshirt. I had to sprint to the locker room, grab my jersey and sprint backout. I made it before the horn blew, but Coach was like, "I don't like arookie being the last one out here." That was the last time that happened,I'll tell you that.

I HAD EIGHTFAMILY MEMBERS AT SUNDAY'S GAME AGAINST THE COLTS.

I grew up inIndianapolis. They waved, but I didn't wave back; I keep focused on the field.A big inspiration to me is my late grandfather Benedicto, the first primeminister of Uganda. He was for the people and wouldn't let himself be changed.Idi Amin had him assassinated in 1972, a decade before I was born, and in mygrandfather's honor I got a tattoo of a Ugandan coat of arms on my back. What Igot from him is, whatever you're doing, great or small, find something youbelieve in and don't let anyone change your mind. Also, he inspires me to treateveryone equally. I'm going to carry those principles into the NFL.

TWO PHOTOS EVAN PINKUS/WIREIMAGE.COM (KIWANUKA PLAYING); DIANA ELIAZOV (KIWANUKA WRITING)