Jayron Hosley played poorly in the preseason, and he knows it. The New York Giants third-year cornerback was facing an NFL-mandated four-games suspension for a violation of the league's substance able policy, He admitted Wednesday that the suspension affected him during the preseason.
"If I said it wasn't, I'd be lying," Hosley said. "When I'm out there, I've got to block those things out. It's hard but at the same time you've got to know what's more important. Off the field is off the field, on the field is on the field."
How poorly did the 2012 third-round pick play. He gave up 12 completions in 16 targets (75 percent), had a passer rating against of 106.8 and committed four penalties in 110 snaps.
Hosley returned from suspension last week and, thanks to season-ending injuries to Walter Thurmond III and Trumaine McBride, will start at slot cornerback for the Giants Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. He knows Tony Romo and the Cowboys will test him.
"I hope they do," Hosley said. "It's what I've been here for. I hope they think I'm, you know, the weak link. I hope they do.
"I'm ready to play. I'm not here to talk trash or anything like that. I'm confident in myself. If they feel a certain way about me in that position, that's how they feel. I've just got to do my job."
The Giants seemingly have not had confidence in Hosley up to this point. The 5-foot-10, 178-pounder played in 12 games, starting six, after the Giants selected him 94th overall in 2012. Hosley struggled while playing 465 snaps, earning a -11.1 Pro Football Focus grade in pass coverage. Quarterbacks had a field day throwing in his direction. Hosley gave up 33 completions in 47 targets (70 percent), had a passer rating against of a ghastly 121.5 and gave up four touchdown passes.
In 2013, Hosley was mostly an afterthought. The Giants played veteran Terrell Thomas in the slot. On the outside, when injuries felled Corey Webster and Aaron Ross, the Giants turned to McBride as a replacement rather than Hosley. He played in only six games, with one start, totaling only 116 defensive snaps for the season. He was targeted only eight times, giving up six completions (75 percent) and had a 103.6 passer rating against.
The Giants have little choice right now but to give Hosley a chance. They can only hope that the 24-year-old is finally ready to become the type of player the Giants hoped for when they drafted him.
"I've grown at the position. I learned to play the position. I feel more comfortable than I did my rookie year, so at this point I feel like I'm more prepared to play and play that role and be effective," Hosley said. "I've had more plays at the position now. I've seen it more, I've been through it more. I've practiced it, I've repped it more, so it's just being able to see things and recognize it, not worry so much about what you're doing but what the offense is doing so I could be more instinctive."