The past few months have not been easy for Giants rookie cornerback Corey Ballentine.
The sixth-round pick out of Division II Washburn was shot the night he was drafted, taking a bullet to his glute, while his best friend was killed in the incident. The shooting forced Ballentine to miss rookie minicamp while simultaneously coping with the loss of his friend.
Despite the unfortunate circumstances and late start, Ballentine has impressed throughout training camp and that continued Thursday night against the Jets in the preseason opener.
Ballentine, who has had three interceptions already in training camp practices, picked off a pass from Jets' backup Davis Webb in the third quarter of Thursday's game.
"I'm just continuing to improve," Ballentine said, per Greg Joyce of The Post. "Go out here and put my hand in the pile and help this team win a championship, [that's] my real goal."
Ballentine managed to break up a couple of other passes, including one where he went step-for-step with Jets receiver Tim White on a deep ball but the play was controversially overturned after the new replay rules allowed Jets head coach Adam Gase to challenge for defensive pass interference.
Ballentine even shined on special teams, getting the chance to return kicks and running one back for 40 yards in the second quarter.
"I've always felt like I could compete at this level with these type of athletes," Ballentine said. "So the speed of the game wasn't too different for me. But I think I handled it well. I think I'm fast enough to keep up with them and physical enough to keep up with them as well."
If Ballentine continues to perform like this throughout the remainder of the preseason, not only will he be on the 53-man roster, but he may just have a chance to be an impactful player on the Giants, whether on defense or special teams, this season.
"[I'm] not letting the playbook get ahead of me and just going out there and playing the game that I've played since the fourth grade," he said. "It's just at a higher level now. I just gotta go out there and make plays. This is something I've always wanted to do since I was young. Now that the time is here, I just gotta do my thing and make sure everybody knows that I belong here."