David Douglas raced up the right sideline, deftly maneuvered his way past cornerback Janzen Jackson and was suddenly in the clear. Quarterback Ryan Perrilloux lofted a deep ball toward Douglas, a beautiful ball spiraling magnficently through the blue Albany sky, but really terribly thrown. It was too long, and too far to the outside, destined to be a disappointing incompletion.
Wasn't it? Well, wasn't it? Douglas kept churning for the overthrown ball, hurtling himself through the air and reaching as far as he could with his right hand. Douglas held onto the ball when he hit the UAlbany grass, making a seemingly impossible catch that has to be the play of training camp thus far.
This might have been the crown jewel, but the undrafted free agent wide receiver from Arizona has been making plays ever since the Giants invited him to rookie camp. He has made enough in fact that on Wednesday Giants coach Tom Coughlin went out of his way to offer Douglas some unsolicited praise, saying "David Douglas has had a heck of a preseason."
Coughlin's comment, and of course Douglas' performance, made him a bit of a rock star among the assembled media on Thursday morning. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to talk to the 6-foot-1, 205-pound 23-year-old. Let's not anoint Douglas as the second coming of Victor Cruz, but the sudden jump into the spotlight was reminiscent of the way Cruz came from nowhere to garner all manner of attention two preseasons ago.
Douglas, modest enough to go cover his tank top with a sweatshirt before agreeing to speak with the media Thursday, said he "didn't even know" about Coughlin's comment until he was informed Thursday morning.
Douglas called Coughlin's praise a "huge compliment," but added "you just have to keep working."
"It's a big learning process so you've got to take it one play at a time. If you do something good you've got to treat it like you do something bad," Douglas said. "I've tried to make an effort to be consistent and I try to get better every day that I step out there."
Douglas caught 117 passes during his last two seasons at Arizona, including 65 during his senior season, but still went undrafted.
"The knock me has been my speed," said Douglas. "I went out at my Pro Day and ran a high 4.3, 4.4. That's something I've really worked on. I've gotten faster.
"I see myself as a consistent guy, a guy who catches the ball, can go in traffic and catch the ball and a guy who plays hard."
The Giants have several players vying for spots at wide receiver. Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, second-round draft pick Reuben Randle, veteran Domenik Hixon and second-year man Jerrel Jernigan have locks on roster spots if they all begin the season healthy. That leaves Douglas in a cluster of players fighting for one, maybe two, spots on the 53-man roster.
"You have to take advantage of every rep that you get in. When you're not one of the first or second string guys you've definitely got to take advantage of the reps that you get," Douglas said. "You've just got to go out there and make the most of it every time you get in."