New York Giants (@Giants) August 14, 2016
While he didn't see the field as much as one would expect of a third round pick playing in his second year, New York Giants defensive tackle Jay Bromley played well when he saw the field in 2015.
But when Bromley finally did see consistent snaps toward the end of the year, he played well enough that he could be expected to take a significant step forward going into his third year.
So it was a surprise when he spent most of training camp, and the first preseason game, on the PUP list. Bromley explained that he had surgery following minicamp to remove bone spurs in his ankle that he just couldn't play through. But Sunday he finally passed his physical and made it back to the field.
"I feel good, I feel good." Bromley said, "It feels good to be back on the field, finally."
Bromley's return to the field should only help boost a defensive line that was smothering in it's first test. Despite his frustration at not being on the field, Bromley freely admits to enjoying watching Johnathan Hankins, Damon Harrison, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Olivier Vernon work.
"It was a lot of fun, man, seeing Hank and Snacks on the inside, JPP and OV on the outside." He said, "It's always fun watching those guys in practice and especially on game day."
But his wait was frustrating nonetheless. Being limited to just watching other players improve while all you can do is try to get healthy has to grate on any competitive athlete.
"Very tough." Bromley said "Because you get to sit back and you see all these new guys, and you see Hankins and Snacks get better every day. And that's the hardest thing. You're getting better every day and all I can do is go in the training room and give it my all, and go out and run sprints the best I can. I can't really work on my technique as much, so that's something I have to pick up on these coming weeks."
But Bromley is looking forward to the work set out in front of him, regaining his technique, and position on the depth chart.
"I wouldn't have it any other way." He said, "I don't look to come back and think anything was handed to me. I look forward to the challenge, I see guys get better each and every day. We have seven or eight defensive tackles and I don't mind starting in the back and work my way all the way back to the front. It makes it that much more enjoyable for me when I get there. I know it's going to take a lot of hard work and effort to get my wind back, and my technique back, and pad level, and all those little nuances of the game we don't usually think about."
"Not so much feeling the pressure." Bromley added "More than anything I really enjoy watching people get better, honestly. When I come back, I'm not working to be second string. If I'm not working to be the best defensive tackle on this team, I shouldn't be here. Watching Snacks, watching Hank, that's the best way to go about it. Seeing what they do on a consistent basis and wanting out-do them. If I'm not taking that into consideration and working towards being better than them every single day, then I'm not helping this team, I'm not helping this organization. So I look at it as if, I was looking to be number one anyway, so it doesn't matter who is number three, four, five."
"I think that's how it should be." He continued, giving a glimpse into the mind of a player that the Giants drafted based on his work ethic. "I feel like when you think about some of the best players to play certain sports, they were motivated the best players. Not necessarily overlooking anybody, but I'm aiming for number one, and if I miss, I'll fall short and be, you know, number two. As long as I aim for number one, my goals and the way I approach the days, and the way I approach the weight room and my technique and my conditions will be top of the line."
Bromley was then asked what one thing he needed to work on. The answer wasn't the expected one. We might expect him to say his pass rush technique, or ability to anchor against the run. Instead, he gave an answer that is much more basic, and maybe gives a hint why his career has gotten off to a slow start.
"I felt like when I was first got into the league," he said "I was so focused on weight, and I thought that was equivalent to how physical I could play and how strong I was. So I played at 295 my senior year at college, then I got to the League and went up ten or fifteen pounds. I thought that was going to help me play better, and I realized, it took me two years, it took me a little bit too long, but to realize that I don't need, necessarily, to be 315, 320, or even 310 to be productive in this league. I stick at the weight my body feels good at, that I feel the most athletic at, and really be the most disruptive as possible. Coach Graham gives us the opportunity to be flexible with our technique and how we play the game as long as we're disruptive and causing havoc."
Bromley isn't the first player to talk about the sense of competition and drive to be better in this year's training camp. Even Odell Beckham, who was voted as the 9th best player in the league by his peers, is coming in to the 2016 season driven to improve. It's a feeling that seems to permeate the locker room.
"Very important." Bromley said when asked how he felt about the 2016 season. "I saw somewhere Odell said 'Year three, let's go' I guess that's the same way I take it. I see the success he's had, the success some other people have had, and honestly I think this is the most talented team I've been on thus far. I want to make it to the post-season, I want to win a Super Bowl I'm from New York City, all those good things. I want to enjoy the game as long as God blesses me to play it. When I couldn't play, when I was hurt, it makes you value the game that much more."