Injuries force Giants to shuffle secondary
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- With the status of Terrell Thomas' injured right knee uncertain, the New York Giants are hoping for the best and preparing to make changes in case the veteran cannot play this season.
Thomas re-injured his right anterior cruciate ligament for the third time in his career when he slipped in practice Sunday during the Super Bowl champions' third training camp practice.
Initially, the Giants (No. 3 in the AP Pro32) said Thomas re-injured his ACL and probably would have arthroscopic surgery. He went to California to get a second opinion from the surgeon who reconstructed his ACL last year, and the five-year veteran plans to be examined by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews next week, the Giants said.
If Thomas only stretched his ACL, there is hope that he could return.
''As I told you yesterday, I am always going to stay positive until somebody tells me differently,'' coach Tom Coughlin said after the team held a two-hour practice in full pads at the University at Albany.
Thomas, who missed all of last season after injuring the same ACL in a preseason game, was penciled in as a starting cornerback. Prince Amukamara, last year's top draft pick, Michael Coe and Jayron Hosley, the third-round draft pick, all will get a chance to replace Thomas at cornerback.
The problem is in nickel packages. Many teams, against the Giants, use nickel, utilizing three and four receivers, and Thomas was the nickel back in 2009 and 2010. Safety Antrel Rolle reluctantly filled the position last season with veteran Deon Grant taking over at his safety spot.
The Giants have asked Rolle to fill the role again, while also auditioning Hosley and speedy second-year linebacker Jacquian Williams at the position. Right now, it's still a developing situation.
''You know, in this league, you have to have an open mind,'' Rolle said. ''A ballplayer is a ballplayer. It doesn't matter what position you're at. If I have to go down there and do it again, then so be it. Like I said, right now, my only focus is hearing the feedback from Terrell and hoping that everything is OK.
''Hopefully, we'll be able to move forward.''
Ironically, Rolle came to camp last week hoping to concentrate on being a safety.
''Like I said, we're going to get some changes,'' Rolle said. ''We're going to have to play with the cards that are dealt to us, and it's something I've done before. I'm not a stranger to the nickel position. So, like I said, if I have to play it, then so be it.''
Williams was impressive in his rookie season and he has put on an extra 20 pounds while maintaining his speed.
''I feel comfortable,'' Williams said. ''It's another opportunity and a blessing for me to go out and play that position.''
Hosley, who had to leave practice after becoming dehydrated, is learning the nickel. He did not play there at Virginia Tech.
''I think I bring speed and playmaking ability, the things they brought me here for,'' Hosley said. ''We've got a lot of talented guys on this team, so any one of us can fill that spot. But I'm going to go in there and work, and hopefully things work out. My goal and my focus right now is just learning, getting in that playbook and doing my job.''
The problem with Rolle moving to the nickel for now, is that the Giants did not re-sign Grant this season and backup Tyler Sash is going to miss the first four games of the regular season after being suspended by the NFL for a violation of the performance enhancing drug policy.
Sash said he took a prescription drug (Adderall) while under a doctor's care for an anxiety condition in March, having no idea it was banned by NFL policy.
Veteran Stevie Brown was signed as a free agent and free agent safety Will Hill, who was out of the league last year, has shown flashes early in training camp. He came up quickly in practice on Thursday to shut down two swing passes.
Safeties coach Dave Merritt said Hill, who played at St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City, has size, speed and instincts.
''The thing that Will is going to have learn, and we all know, is the playbook. The details of the details,'' Merritt said. ''And when you come here as a safety, you have to be ready to control all the coverage adjustments and you have to be ready to get everyone lined up accordingly.
''That's going to be a challenge for him. But he is definitely learning.''
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