Second-round pick Dalvin Tomlinson is the favorite to be the starter at defensive tackle for the New York Giants next to Damon Harrison this season. If it’s not Tomlinson, the most logical alternative is Robert Thomas, who played limited snaps last season.
Let’s take a closer look at Thomas as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.
The Giants claimed the 6-foot-3, 325-pound defensive tackle off waivers from the Carolina Panthers at the beginning of the regular season. It took the Giants several weeks to find out what Thomas could do, as an unexplained illness sidelined him. He did not practice for several weeks and did not play in a game until Week 6 vs. the Baltimore Ravens.
Thomas, 26, ended up playing in eight regular-season games. He had five tackles and one sack in just 68 total snaps.
2017 Season Outlook
Thomas appears to be in pretty much the same role he was in last season. Johnathan Hankins left via free agency, signing with the Indianapolis Colts, but the Giants drafted Tomlinson as a replacement. Thomas and Jay Bromley seem likely to rotate as backups for Tomlinson and Damon Harrison.
Thomas entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Washington Redskins in 2014. He had been with the Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins and the Panthers before being claimed by the Giants. In all of those stops, he had played in only one regular-season game, with the Dolphins in 2015.
Sticking with him through his illness last season showed that there is something about Thomas that the Giants like, something that perhaps he really was unable to showcase during his brief stops in other places. Whatever that is, he really did not get to show much during his abbreviated playing time in 2016.
This season, perhaps we will actually get to see what drew the Giants to Thomas in the first place.