Giants third round draft pick Darian Thompson, a safety out of Boise State, has done everything and more this summer to convince the team that he is their free safety of the future. But with Thompson sidelined this week, and possibly beyond, with a shoulder ailment the Giants will be relying on the "next man up" to fill the role. Who that "next man up" is right now is unknown. It could be any number of players such as the oft-injured Nat Behre and Cooper Taylor to UDFA Andrew Adams and veteran CB Leon Hall.
On Friday, safeties coach David Merritt was asked what the plan at free safety is with Thompson out.
"I have no clue," he said. "The thing is, the Nat Berhe's and all the guys that we have are ready to go, they have all been tested, each guy, so I really don't know right now. I couldn't answer that question."
Thompson has impressed since the day he arrived here in May. He won the job early on and has become entrenched in the defensive plans. So when he hurt his shoulder last week, the team had to revert back to the retread route.
"Very disappointing," Merritt said of Thompson not getting to play in the team's dress rehearsal against the Jets Saturday. "I feel sad for the young man. He has been doing well for us as far as communicating and controlling the coverages on the back end, so for him to miss a game, he was definitely upset."
The medical staff is confident that Thompson will not miss much time, but any time missed by a rookie is crucial.
"Oh, he will be ready. He will be ready," said Merritt. "My thing is, I told the young man, 'You are a young fella, you should heal well, if you were my age you would be out for six months', but by him being young, I truly believe that he will be ready to go. He is in there taking notes and has continued to try to help all the other guys in the room as far as the game plan and etc. So I don't think it derails him at all." Merritt extolled the virtues team scouts saw in Thompson before the draft and what he's shown so far in training camp that has set him apart from the others.
"The assertiveness," he said. "This kid has come in from day one, he's been able to go out and receive the calls that would come into the huddle and he is able to go out and actually execute it and just being very firm with his calls whether he is right or wrong. That is the one thing that he has shown from day one, is just being assertive and making a call and sticking to it."
Thompson won't be able to display his wares this week nor continue to grow and nurture his budding partnership with starting strong safety Landon Collins. That will have to wait.
Berhe will likely be given the starting nod against the Jets. The Giants have waited three seasons for him to break out, only to watch him lose several seasons to injury. Berhe was, at one time, the hitter the Giants had sought in the middle of their secondary.
"Nat is a guy that is a heat-seeking missile," Head coach Ben McAdoo said on Tuesday. "He plays fast and aggressive. He's bouncing back from an injury and he's done a nice job getting in with the scheme. It's nice to see him out there."
Taylor is another player the Giants want to squeeze the last drop out of. After being drafted in 2013 as a "tweener", Taylor has experienced several major injuries and was even waived last season, only to be re-signed. It's doubtful he'll be kept if he cannot distinguish himself in the next two weeks.
Mykkele Thompson, who missed all fo last season with an Achilles injury, is now trying to overcome a concussion. The Giants loved his upside when they drafted him out of Texas last year, but he hasn't been 100% even before the concussion, so his chances of making the roster are becoming dimmer by the day.
Bennett Jackson is another player that has not been able to avoid the injury bug. He is being shifted back to CB for the time being in an effort to keep him healthy.
Andrew Adams ("Double A") was signed as a UDFA this March out of UConn. He has shown flashes this summer and the Giants will be looking to see more. Justin Currie, another player who missed the 2015, will see some reps against the Jets. The team is curious to see Currie play against better competition, but that may not happen. Joe Powell, signed last week out of Globe Tech in New York, should also see some action.