Until the past few days, safety Tyler Sash was a curiosity at New York Giants' training camp.
There was the 'Hey, look at that "big, girthy, triumphant beard" [Steve Weatherford's description] the third-year safety has sprouted' kind of curiosity. It is, after all, a beard worthy of a place on 'Mountain Men' or 'Duck Dynasty', which are TV shows if you aren't familiar.
There has also been 'how the heck does Sash make the 53-man roster?' kind of curiosity, since the Giants added free agent Ryan Mundy and drafted Cooper Taylor, adding depth to the safety position, and threatening Sash's place on the roster.
Well, Sash's excellent performance on Saturday in the preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers and a confluence of other events may have answered the roster question. Antrel Rolle was carted off the field Monday with an ankle injury that could sideline him into the regular season. There is also the four-game suspension Will Hill must serve at the beginning of the season, and the hamstring injury Taylor is recovering from.
All of that makes Sash, at the very least, the No. 3 safety on the roster currently. Depending on how the coaching staff feels about Sash vs. Mundy it could even push Sash -- temporarily -- into a starting role.
Sash had surgery on both ankles during the offseason to alleviate bone spurs that would occasionally cause his ankles to lock up.
"(The surgery) definitely helped me as far as running around and being able to move. I already know I'm a sixth-round guy (from the 2011 draft). I understand what's going on, I've got to produce," Sash said. "If I'm not producing, that's why they're bringing another safety in or they're going to try to acquire somebody from another team or draft somebody. I got those taken care of and it's all about production right now, proving to this coaching staff and every other coaching staff in the NFL that I can play defense and I can play special teams and help your team win."
He produced Saturday night, with four tackles, including one when he tackled quarterback Landry Jones in the end zone for a safety, and a fumble recovery on a punt return.
"That’s what I’m here to do, be around the football," Sash said. "That’s my job, that’s what I’m here to do is be around the football and help my team in any way I can, on defense or special teams."
Is there a scenario under which Sash, provided he stays healthy, does not make the 53-man roster?
Well, perhaps if Rolle heals quickly. If Taylor heals, gets on the field and wows the coaching staff. If, possibly, the Giants decide to switch Terrell Thomas to safety -- and he proves to their satisfaction he is healthy. Maybe the Giants keep Hill despite his suspension and are willing to gamble with safety depth until he returns.
"I'm healthy, I know what kind of football player I am and I know that I can help out on special teams or defense on any team in the league," Sash said. "Everybody's proving themselves each and every time they come out here. There's only so many positions up for grabs and you've got to come out each and every day and prove who you are and prove what you can do to improve this team, because if you're not helping the team out or hurting the team in any way, you're not going to be here for very long."
All of the maybe's and potential scenarios aside it seems hard to fathom a season-opening 53-man roster for the Giants without Sash on it. That is something I doubt anyone would have said prior to the first preseason game.