Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports
The handwriting seemed to be on the wall as early as March for third-year safety Tyler Sash, a career backup and special-teams player, who saw the Giants sign free agent Ryan Mundy and draft Cooper Taylor to go along with the very talented Will Hill as the depth behind starters Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown.
However, misfortunes started hitting the Giants safety unit. Hill, in his second season, was handed another four-game suspension by the NFL, this one for violating the league's Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.
Then Taylor, who impressed in the spring, ended up missing a large part of training camp with a hamstring injury. When he did finally get on the field for the final preseason game, his performance didn't exactly inspire confidence that he would be ready to line up against the Dallas Cowboys on opening night.
The third blow to the safety unit’s depth came when Brown suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Jets on Aug. 24.
With all the stars aligning in Sash’s favor, in retrospect, there were a few subtle clues that told a very different story for former 2011 sixth-round draft pick’s chances.
First, he was removed from the punt protector role with the first team, a role he held as a rookie, during training camp.
The second, and perhaps the most telling, came when Brown was injured. Instead of sending Sash into the game to replace Brown, the coaches sent Hill into the game, a curious decision at the time, given that Hill was headed for the four-week absence while Sash, had he been the next man up as originally thought, would have probably benefited more from the extra snaps.
Still, the Giants decision to leave themselves with just three safeties—Antrel Rolle, Mundy and Taylor—is a big risk to take if they keep it that way heading into Dallas. Sash's knowledge of the playbook and his ability to contribute on special teams figured to serve the Giants well until Hill was eligible for reinstatement, but instead the team chose to waive Sash, who suffered a concussion in the preseason finale, with an injury settlement.
Looking ahead, the Giants will go with what they have at safety, though they can always incorporate corners Aaron Ross or Terrell Thomas into the mix.