Terrell Thomas seemed headed for stardom when the 2011 season began. He was coming off a season in which he had accomplished the amazing feat of leading the New York Giants in both interceptions (five) and tackles (101).
There were many who, at that time, thought Thomas was the Giants' best cornerback. It also seemed like Thomas was on the verge of becoming a Pro Bowl player.
Only Thomas' right knee refused to cooperate.
First, he lost all of last season when he tore his right ACL in a preseason game against the Chicago Bears. That was the second torn right ACL of his football career, having suffered the first while in college at USC.
Thomas might have suffered the third on Sunday when he slipped on the grass during practice at UAlbany while covering a wide receiver. The Giants are saying only that Thomas suffered an injury "involving the ACL," and that arthroscopic surgery will reveal the severity.
If the surgery reveals another tear, Thomas' NFL career could be over. No player has ever made it back from three torn ACLs to the same knee. Even if the damage is not that severe, you have to think it will be a long while before Thomas plays in an NFL game again.
There are all sorts of ramifications for the Giants.
- It seems likely that Prince Amukamara, last season's first-round pick, will have to step into Thomas' spot. Michael Coe has that job, for now.
- Could this mean that Antrel Rolle ends up having to play some slot corner again this season, something neither he nor the Giants really want? Coe, Justin Tryon and third-round pick Jayron Hosley would seem like the other slot options.
- If Rolle has to move into the slot could the Giants end up re-signing Deon Grant?
We can discuss all of those possibilities in greater depth later. This post, though, is about Thomas and how awful you have to feel for him.
You could sense the resignation and disappointment in coach Tom Coughlin's voice Monday when he was asked if there was news about Thomas. "Yeah, there is," said the coach.
Of course, this wasn't the news Coughlin wanted to deliver. Or that anyone wanted to hear about Thomas, a talented, popular player who went out of his way to thank fans for their support during the last year by giving away 'T2' T-shirts Saturday in Albany.
It's not the news anyone wants to hear. Let's not blame the field at UAlbany. Remember that last season at the Timex Performance Center Giants' players were dropping like flies during training camp. And Domenik Hixon's original knee injury two years ago came during practice on the MetLife Stadium FieldTurf.
This is pro football, a risky business that can be dangerous to your health. Everyone involved in the sport understands the risks, and knows there are no guarantees.
That, however, does not make it any less sad when bad things happen to good people -- and Thomas seems like a genuinely good guy. He deserves a better fate than what appears to lie ahead for him.