New York Giants: Getting Familiar with the Team's Newest Faces
It seems like every year, the New York Giants suffer a ton of injuries to a specific positional unit. Last year it was cornerbacks, and the year before that it was wide receivers.
This year, it looks like defensive tackles have pulled the short end of the stick.
Things were shaky to begin with, as training camp kicked off with starter Chris Canty watching from the sidelines. A knee injury that’s been bothering Canty since last December has kept him on the physically unable to perform list for the entire preseason to date. Originally, Canty was optimistic that he would be ready for the season opener, but with each passing day, the outlook grows murkier.
Things only got worse on Tuesday, when fellow defensive tackles Shaun Rogers and Martin Parker were lost for the season. Rogers, who was placed on injured reserve, suffered a blood clot in his leg, and Parker, who the team waived, was diagnosed with a herniated disc in his back.
With the immediate future of 2010 second-round draft pick Marvin Austin also in question due to back issues, the Giants were suddenly very thin at interior defensive line. The injuries prompted general manager Jerry Reese, who has been quiet this offseason as usual, to make a few roster moves.
The Giants ended up signing four players on Thursday (actually five, but one player, defensive tackle Bobby Skinner, was released shortly after his first practice with the team, per Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News). They snagged a cornerback/kick returner in addition to three defensive tackles, who are expected to plug the gaps left behind by their new teammates.
The turnover rate is high in the NFL, and there’s no guarantee that these players will be here in a month, or even a week’s time. But they are Giants nonetheless, so we should take the time to get to know them.
DT Marcus Thomas
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Of the four players the Giants brought in, former Bronco Marcus Thomas is easily the biggest name.
After being drafted in Round 4 (No. 121 overall) of the 2007 draft, Thomas became an immediate producer for the Broncos’ defense. In his first two seasons, he compiled 53 tackles, two passes defended, two interceptions and a forced fumble. Thomas even started all 16 games of his sophomore season.
However, Thomas’ statistics took a significant dip in 2009 when he lost his starting job. But the following year, Thomas rebounded with 35 tackles despite only two starts. Presumably, Thomas had discovered his niche as a reserve defensive tackle and made the most out of it.
That’s a good sign, considering the Giants already have Linval Joseph, Rocky Bernard and Canty when he’s healthy. Thomas probably won’t compete for a starting job, but he will compete with young, but impressive, tackle Dwayne Hendricks for a backup role.
Thomas is the type of player that can step in and become a part of the regular-season rotation in 2012. He showed durability and regularity during his time in Denver by appearing in all 16 games in each of his first four seasons with the team.
When all is said and done, Thomas could prove to be a valuable asset to the Giants defense, as well as another genius pick-up in the books for Reese.
DT Carlton Powell
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Ex-Hokie Carlton Powell has yet to leave his mark on the NFL. After four years in the league, Powell has only one tackle to his name. It’s never a good thing to have more former teams than years experience in the league, but Reese must have seen enough potential in Powell to give him a shot with the team.
After the Broncos drafted him in Round 5 (No. 148 overall) of the 2008 draft, Powell landed on the Browns’, Broncos’ (again), Buccaneers’ and Jets’ practice squads before finally holding down a spot on Atlanta’s active roster last season.
The Giants’ expectations for Powell can’t be too high, so if he’s able to pick up the defense quickly and possibly make a few plays in the remainder of preseason, he might be able to land himself a roster spot. But unless the Giants’ plans at defensive tackle go incredibly awry, don’t expect to see Powell in on many snaps come September.
DT Oren Wilson
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Defensive tackle Oren Wilson returns to his home state of New Jersey after finishing out his collegiate career with the Akron Zips. According to CBSSports.com, Wilson spent his first three years of college at Michigan State, but was forced to leave after being convicted of two counts of misdemeanor assault and battery.
Wilson was a significant member of the Spartans’ defense before transferring, appearing in every game except for one in his first three seasons. According to SportsIllustrated.com, Wilson’s statistics jumped during his senior season at Akron, when he had 38 tackles (4.5 for loss) and 3.5 sacks.
Wilson has interesting potential, but a lot of his experience is at nose tackle, and at a sub-300 pound weight, it will be difficult for him to make an impact in the middle of the Giants’ defensive line. They may end up stashing Wilson away on the practice squad for future development.
CB/KR Laron Scott
Laron Scott’s career as an undrafted rookie free agent has already gotten off to a rocky start. He originally agreed to terms with the Saints, but after only one preseason game, New Orleans made the decision to move on without Scott’s services.
He played his college football at Georgia Southern, a Division I FCS school. As an Eagle, Scott stood out for his work on special teams, earning himself an All-America honor.
According to his draft profile on SportsIllustrated.com, Scott averaged 30.6 yards per kick return and scored two return touchdowns in his senior year, including one against the eventual national champion Alabama Crimson Tide.
In the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game versus the Arizona Cardinals, Scott showcased his 4.38 40-yard dash speed by returning a kickoff 67 yards. With many personnel options still up in the air, the Giants hope that Scott can provide a spark for a return game that has really struggled in recent years.