EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Defensive back Julian Love learned, grew as a player and dealt with a lot of losing in spending his first four NFL seasons with the New York Giants.
Love had three coaches, three defensive coordinators and three losing seasons before New York turned it around last season under new coach Brian Daboll and made the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
And Love reaped some of the rewards in free agency. The Notre Dame product signed a two-year, $12 million contract with Seattle. The 2019 fourth-round draft pick earned $3.3 million in four seasons in New York. His signing bonus with Seahawks was $4.8 million.
Love will return to MetLife Stadium for the first time when Seattle (2-1) faces the struggling Giants (1-2) on Monday night.
“I just learned to be resilient,” Love said in Seattle of his time in New York. "Those early years, my first two years, we had losing seasons. I just learned to put my head down and work. That was important. It was all meant to be from my game and growth; last year I hit my stride. It was a long four years.”
Love became a cornerstone with the Giants by 2022. He led them in tackles (124), served as a captain and was an integral part of three special teams units.
Preparing this week has been interesting.
“It’s unique for sure,” he said. "People reaching out from New York, but I’m just trying to keep it simple. It’s another game. It’s a nameless, faceless opponent. As difficult as that is, that’s how I have to approach this. I just have to play my game, not do anything extra, and just get a win on Monday night.”
That might be difficult. Many of the current Giants players were at Love's wedding. Several former teammates have been in touch with him this week.
Fellow safety Xavier McKinney was playing an online game with him.
“We were on 2K,” McKinney said. “But yeah, man, I mean, I miss him, playing next to him, he’s a good friend of mine. We were teammates. He’s a great guy. Great dude. It’s going to be fun being able to play against him. Obviously, I was able to play alongside of him. It’s going to be fun (Monday), but at the end of the day, we’re still brothers.”
Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale frequently called Love one of the smartest players he has coached. However, he added his defense has changed and he won't have to change anything because Love is an opponent this week.
Giants cornerback Adoree Jackson said he understands if Love talks about the Giants with his new teammates.
“That’s the team he’s with and at the end of the day he’s going to do what he needs to do for them to get the best chance to win," Jackson said.
“As a person, knowing, playing with him, I hope he wouldn’t but at the end of the day that’s his new team, that’s who his loyalty is with so I’m just excited to see him and play.”
Love seemingly is more excited about Seattle getting back safety Jamal Adams. He will be playing for the first time since tearing a quadriceps tendon early last season.
“My snaps might look a little different, but our defense will look a little more complex,” Love said. "He brings a lot to the table. He’s been practicing hard, has been meeting hard. It’s going to look a little different going forward and we’re trying to take that step. I think we still have areas that we need to climb on defense and him coming back will allow us to do that.”
Love is third on Seattle with 27 tackles. The 25-year-old also has three passes defensed and a fumble recovery.
The Seahawks are meeting the Giants for the second consecutive season, having beaten them 27-13 in Seattle.
Pete Carroll's team is 5-0 all time at MetLife Stadium, including their only Super Bowl title in franchise history.
Three of the five wins have come against the Giants.
AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle contributed to this report.
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