Terrell Thomas is trying to do something no NFL defensive back has ever done -- return to action following three ACL surgeries on the same knee. Thomas said Wednesday in the New York Giants locker room that he has never allowed himself to believe his career is over.
"I never thought I wouldn’t make it back," said Thomas, who has been doing individual work on the side during the team's mandatory mini-camp. "ACL rehab is really hard. I did it once in college and when I tore it up in 2010 I kind of knew what to expect, but to double back on that with really no time to really overcome the first one was kind of hard mentally, more than anything.
Thomas knows the drill when it comes to rehab.
"The physical part just comes with time. Once I was able to walk, I was able to start feeling a lot better and now it comes the progression, making yourself better and so on and so on," he said.
He also knows that working alone while his teammates go through their normal activities is part of the process.
"It’s not weird. It’s a part of rehab. It’s by yourself. You’ve got to motivate yourself and at the same time we have a great group of guys and when I’m walking back over they’re always saying ‘I see you working’ and vice-versa," Thomas said. "So it’s very encouraging just to be around these guys, to workout with them and the extra stuff I’ve got to do on my own is just a part of my comeback."
The 28-year-old, who has not played in a game since the 2010 season, expects to be able to join his teammates on the field when training camp opens later this summer.
"I’m able to do everything. It’s more just about getting comfortable and trusting myself without hesitating, without thinking, and just reacting and I’m almost there," Thomas said. "Physically, I haven’t swelled up in the last four months and I’ve been progressing every week and each week I get better and faster and stronger, so it’s just a progression.
"I have to be realistic with myself knowing that I had two ACLs in one year and it’s a long journey, but I’ll be back and I’m going to shock a lot of people."
There has been much discussion of whether Thomas will be able to resume playing cornerback, or whether a move to safety would be best for the resumption of his career. Thomas has heard the question many times now, and his answer is that he really doesn't care.
"I’m whatever they need me to be," Thomas said. "I just want to play football. At this point in my career, it’s all about getting healthy and getting on the field and contributing in any way and if that’s a leadership role, that’s a safety role, nickel, corner, kickoff, whatever; I’ll do whatever I’ve got to do."