The first week of training camps are largely in the books across the league, and the New York Giants will be back to work today after being off on Tuesday. With a number of practices on tape league-wide, ESPN decided that it was time to make a bold prediction for each of the 32 teams.
Here’s the bold prediction for the Giants.
Safety Michael Thomas works himself into a pseudo-starting role as the nickel cornerback.
The veteran isn’t being talked about much for that position, but it’s something he has done plenty of during his time with the Dolphins. The Giants’ lack of experience at that spot will have them turn to Thomas, also a stalwart on special teams, before the summer is complete. -- Jordan Raanan
Raptor’s Thoughts: Is that likely to happen? Throughout the offseason it was assumed that veteran free agent William Gay has the inside track as the starting slot corner. Behind him, Donte Deayon — who was dinged slightly, but has had a strong camp — and undrafted rookie Grant Haley are being talked about as the back-up slot corners.
Looking back at James Bettcher’s history, he used corner turned safety Tyrann Mathieu as a slot/safety hybrid, and the team had decided to move Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to free safety from slot corner before his release. So it seems that corner turned safety Curtis Riley would be the one to take that position of anyone competing in the safety group.
Thomas does have experience in the slot, but defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo explains that they want him to learn the safety position first.
“I think Mike has played that for me”, Anarumo said. “We’ve won games in Miami with Mike starting at [nickel], and so one of the attributes that he brings is that he is a multiple position guy, so I want him to get the safety stuff down here and then knowing that he can move around and maybe do some other things in a pinch, that’s been one of his trademarks. We go back, I got him on a Tuesday in 2013, we got to pick him up off of waivers from the 49ers on a practice squad. It was probably week 13 or 14 and I said, ‘hey, Mike, you’re probably not gonna play this game, but we gotta get ready to play,’ and he ends up coming in the last drive of the game picking off Tom Brady to win the game, on the last play of the game, in the end zone, at nickel. So he’s played it at a high level and done it against the best.”
“In a pinch” sounds as though if Thomas is the Giants’ starting slot corner, things have not gone as planned, and they would much rather have him as a safety.
Taking a step back: Just how bold a statement is “Michael Thomas will become a ‘psued-starter’”? A bold statement would be that Eli Manning will be in the MVP conversation, that Eli Apple will be a Pro Bowl player, that Odell Beckham will break Randy Moss’ single season touchdown record or Calvin Johnson’s single season record for yards.
“A somewhat unknown free agent DB might start some games based on match-up” ain’t bold. Get out on that limb!