New York Giants: Terrell Thomas Injury Means Aaron Ross Must Step Up
Starting cornerback Terrell Thomas' season has ended before it really started after he suffered a torn ACL injury after a collision with teammate Jason Pierre-Paul.
This is a major concern for the Giants, as even before the injury, they were leading the league with seven players out for the season.
That figure doesn't even take into account the injury to first-round draft pick Prince Amukamara, who has a fractured foot. Amukama will likely start the NFL regular season on the PUP list and miss at least the first six games of the year.
What does work in the Giants favor is that they entered the season with arguably the deepest secondary in the league. The team had three cornerbacks who had at one stage been starters before adding Amukamara.
However, losing Thomas still significantly hurts them, as he was second in the whole of the NFL last year with 18 passes defended. Thomas and Corey Webster would have been an intimidating tandem of cornerbacks for opposing quarterbacks to throw at.
Now, Aaron Ross will be looked to resume his starting place that he vacated after the 2008 season. Ross is a clear target for defenses to throw at, and he will be repeatedly tested during the regular season. Despite being a former starter, he has struggled with consistency throughout the preseason.
His first outing in Carolina was horrific as he struggled to keep pace with the Panthers backups. He was better against the Bears but still has a long way to go in order to fill in adequately for Thomas or even Amukamara.
The Giants did re-sign Deon Grant, which will allow them to consider starting three safeties as they did at times last season. This doesn't really seem feasible, however, and should be a last resort.
Kenny Philips could see some extended time in man coverage, but time will have to tell if he can cope with that and even play as the nickel corner in certain defenses.
Realistically, the Giants need Ross to step up. Ross doesn't need to look far for inspiration, as he is in a similar situation to Tramon Williams of the Green Bay Packers from last season.
Williams and Ross are the same age and followed similar paths to eventually becoming starters. Williams started 16 games last season after Al Harris' constant battle with injuries got the better of him.
Ross did have six interceptions in his two seasons as a starter but hasn't made an impact since becoming a backup. He does not have to be a turnover machine for the Giants, but he has to come up with solid coverage and reliable tackling.
With the Giants pass rush and the talented pieces around him, Ross will have every chance to succeed, but he needs to step up and remind everyone why he was once a starter.
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