EAST RUTHERFORD NJ - DECEMBER 05: Terrell Thomas #24 of the New York Giants is introduced against the Washington Redskinson December 5 2010 at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
In 2010 New York Giants Terrell Thomas led the team in tackles and interceptions and was building himself toward becoming an exceptional cornerback. In 2011, however, everything came to a halt when he tore his ACL during the preseason. He missed the entire Super Bowl-winning season.
Thomas has entered training camp with no limitations and is not worried about setbacks.
"My confidence is high right now. I feel like I’m the same guy I was last year," said Thomas. "Obviously I’m coming off a knee. I’m not going to be the same football player. And that’s the biggest thing I want to build on these next couple of weeks. Getting back to the techniques and all of that stuff."
ACL injuries are not easy to recover from. Former Giants tight end Jake Ballard was ruled out for the season by the Giants before being claimed off waivers by the New England Patriots and current Giants tight end Travis Beckum is starting training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform List. Both suffered ACL tears. Thomas said he had nothing but motivation after hurting his knee.
"I was extra motivated as soon as I got injured. Everybody doubting me. It being my second ACL," said Thomas. "That’s always been my motive in life. I’ve been through four injuries and overcame all of them and came back better than people expected. So I’m excited for the challenge and just to be part of a great group of guys and defending Super Bowl Champs and help them in any way I can."
After the lockout, former Giants wide receiver Steve Smith came off an injury and left for the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency after they could not agree to terms. Thomas was also entering free agency this offseason after recovering from his injury, but he said there was nowhere else he wanted to be.
"It’s a great organization," said Thomas. "Team first. Family first. I can say nothing but good things about this organization. How they handled my whole situation. I’m just happy to be back playing with such a great coaching staff and group of guys."
In 2011 the secondary was weakened by Thomas' absence. The Giants gained him back, but lost Aaron Ross and Deon Grant. Thomas, however, is not concerned about who the team lost. In fact he's confident about what they're looking to do to rebuild and be stronger.
"I think we’re going to make a statement this year. We’re tired of being the underdog of the defense," said Thomas. "Obviously our front four is the big name. We help them out a lot and vice versa. Antrel [Rolle] is a Pro Bowl player. Obviously Corey Webster should have been a Pro Bowl caliber guy. Kenny [Phillips] has been solid. We’ve got a bunch of young guys that are ready to play. I think we’re excited for the challenge to prove a lot of people wrong."
Thomas sat out for some of training camp on Day 1 because of a stiff back, however head coach Tom Coughlin said it had nothing to do with his knee surgery. Thomas is not letting this affect his play on the field during camp. He's mentally and physically ready to show everyone he's ready to prove himself.
"Mentally, I’m ready to go. My confidence is sky high," said Thomas. " My biggest thing is working myself back into football shape. As far as the weight room, the rehab and all of that, I killed that part. Now it’s becoming a football player. Covering, working on my technique. And all of that stuff that comes along with playing football."
Overall Thomas is ready to prove that although he missed all of the 2011 with a knee injury, he's ready to return as if he was never gone. He's been working hard at it since the day the injury occurred and he's not stopping anytime soon. What better way to start than training camp.
"I set the goal high for myself. I kicked my butt this offseason to come back in the same form I was last year," said Thomas. "I feel I’m almost there. I’m going to use training camp as a time to condition myself to football shape. As far as the weight room aspect, with my knee being strong and all that, I have full belief in my knee. Now I’ve got to get back and become a great football player."