When the New York Giants selected RJ McIntosh in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL draft, he was considered a high-upside pick and a potential steal in the fifth round.
He showed off an impressive quickness against Notre Dame and Quenton Nelson, and had his best game against the best lineman in the country. At the time, he was thought to be a natural fit as either a 3-technique or a defensive end in a 3-man front.
Unfortunately, McIntosh never took the field for the Giants through the offseason program, training camp, preseason, or the first part of the regular season. An unreleased medical ailment kept the Miami product off the field from before the draft until the middle of October. He practiced for the first time for the Giants this Tuesday, and spoke to the media.
On the illness
He was, of course, asked about the illness that kept him off the field, but he wouldn’t shed any light on what was obviously a personal issue — which is absolutely his prerogative.
“Yeah,” McIntosh said, “it’s something that just popped up. I don’t really feel comfortable talking about it. Something that popped up and it shouldn’t come back up.”
That illness kept him off the field for months on end, and he hasn’t played football in nearly a year, which might have been the hardest part of the whole ordeal.
“I would say it was difficult. I’m a football player, I want to play football. I always dreamed of being up here at this level.” McIntosh said. “So, I had to be patient. My family, it was a big deal with them. Explaining to them that it’s a process, and these guys were also telling me not to walk around here sad and stuff. Just get better. It’s out of my control.”
He added, “I didn’t think it would take this long. I understand it’s a process, and we’re at the end of that process.”
On how he can help the team
Now that he is back healthy, the Giants could certainly help on the defense. However, after practicing once, McIntosh isn’t there yet. He needs to work his way back into something like game shape — though he says that he is almost at his playing weight at Miami. He also needs reps, which are hard to come by while his teammates are preparing for games.
“Just stay in my playbook,” he said, when asked what he has to show the coaches, “know everything that they’re talking about. Even though I’m on the side, I can still get mental reps. Focus in meetings, so when I do get the opportunity, I can show up and show out.”
It has been a long road back to the field for McIntosh, and team is certainly looking forward to him showing up and showing out. But for now, he says it’s just good to be back on the field.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do that – since last year, I think,” he said. “It felt great to be around the guys, and doing D-line drills with them. Finally feeling like I’m a part of the team.”