Terrell Thomas has not stepped onto the field in a meaningful game since the 2011 preseason. That changes Saturday night.
Thomas is unsure of how much he will play or how he'll react, mentally or physically. Simply showing Tom Coughlin and the rest of the New York Giants coaches he is deserving of a roster spot will qualify his outing as a successful one.
"I have to go out there and perform. I haven't made the team yet. This is the first time that I've been in the position to have to make the team and it's exciting," Thomas said. "It's actually driven me and motivated to keep pushing, to work through practice and to keep getting better, to show the coaches, the GM, the owner, whatever I have to do to prove to these guys that I can still play football. I'm just blessed to have another opportunity to go out there and play football again."
Back in 2010, it seemed as if Thomas was the Giants' future at the cornerback position. That year, he intercepted five passes and appeared to be on the verge of stardom.
Thomas has worked at cornerback, but seems willing to fit in anywhere, as long as he can make the 53-man roster.
"My biggest thing is just to come to work every day," he said. "When I was hurt, be here early, work my butt off in the weight room, know my job. I've always been that type of player since I've been here. I just want to continue that and, when your opportunity comes, you have to perform.
"My goal through camp is just to keep building every day. Whenever I've had a mistake, whatever I didn't do, just keep building and I think I've done that. And I think it's a perfect time for me to get out there and back on that horse."
Physically, Thomas admitted he's yet to forget about his injury and focus solely on the game. He has dealt with fatigue, heavy legs and multiple cases of tendinitis in the patella tendon.
Then there's a mental aspect -- regaining his confidence in order to play the style and at the level he was at two seasons ago. Maintaining that devout attention doesn't come easy, though, as Thomas is essentially re-disciplining himself.
"It's a grind in training camp, so it's a part of the process. It's good I'm able to push through it. It gives me confidence and it instills confidence in the coaches that they know I'm pushing through it and am able to compete in every practice," Thomas said. "At the end of the day, I just want to play football ... This is a big moment for me."
Thomas said he won't think about the Bears game two preseasons ago -- the last time he played -- when he takes the field Saturday night. There's no point in being worried about getting injured, he added.
Thomas also conceded he's still not 100 percent -- closer to 80 percent, but added a caveat: he can play at full speed, which he expects to be on full display against the Jets.
"Throughout training camp, i kept steadily getting better and better every practice. I was able to do a little bit more with confidence, communicating, (and) you could just tell by my body language that I've gotten better," the Giants defensive back said. "It's been a long journey, a long, hard one. I've been through a lot, endured a lot and this is a true testament to my faith, to my family, to the fans and just to football. It's definitely going to be emotional."