With Jay Bromley out with a knee injury, Giants rookie DT Dalvin Tomlinson may get the start in the team's season opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
Tomlinson, the Giants' second-round pick of this year's draft, had a slow start in his first NFL training camp. But after studying his new playbook, he has vastly improved, and head coach Ben McAdoo is sure he can be effective in a starting role.
"He's a player that's played at a tremendous level in the college game," McAdoo told The Post's Zach Braziller, "He's come in, he's learned the system very well. He's good with his hands, he plays with leverage, he destroys blocks. We feel he'll be ready to play Week 1."
Starting in a season opener is nerve-wracking enough for a rookie, and even more so that the Giants play on "Sunday Night Football" to kick off their 2017-18 campaign. However, Tomlinson has played in prime time games like the FBS National Championship with Alabama this past January.
So the bright lights on Sunday night won't bother him whatsoever.
"It would be amazing," he said. "It's one of the things you always look forward to, just playing in a big game like that, and a season opener."
"It's hard to believe. It feels like yesterday I was just playing in the national championship game. It came pretty quick."
Playing for Alabama, Tomlinson has competed against the best in the country, and he thinks it is has prepared him for the NFL.
"I think it prepared me a lot, because Coach [Nick] Saban has pretty much a college-NFL team," Tomlinson said. "It's like a mini NFL program."
The 23-year-old has been learning from one of the best in the business in fellow tackle Damon "Snacks" Harrison, who has shown him the ropes and given pointers to refine Tomlinson's game.
"It's small things you probably wouldn't see before he's helping you on," Tomlinson said.
Other teammates like defensive captain LB Jonathan Casillas has seen Tomlinson shoot up the ranks on the defensive line. He thinks he can certainly be an impact player the minute he is put into the game.
"I've seen some impressive stuff on tape," Casillas said. "So I think for him to play for us, I think we're all ready for him to play. ... From what I've seen so far, he's very strong, he's very physical, and we're going to need that play from him."
If he starts, Tomlinson will have a spotlight on his back as he will likely be the only rookie to start on a defense that ranked second in points allowed last season. He admits nerves will settle in before game time, but it is a feeling he is used to controlling and it won't affect his performance.
"I feel like I am ready. I am up to the challenge," Tomlinson said. "They picked me to come here and play as a dominant defensive lineman and that's what I plan to do."
In his senior season with Alabama last year, Tomlinson racked up 62 total tackles (5.5 for loss), three sacks, and one forced fumble in 15 games.