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Dalvin Tomlinson shirks underdog status as he enters fourth season in New York

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The defensive lineman has been considered one of the Giants most underappreciated players

New York Jets v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Here is one thing fans might not know about about New York Giants defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson: he plays the ukulele.

Tomlinson told Sirius XM NFL Radio hosts Bill Lekas and Bill Polian on Wednesday evening that he has used his extra time in quarantine to hone this new skill.

“I’m pretty big and the ukulele is pretty small so I am still working on it,” Tomlinson said.

But for many around the NFL, there are a lot of unknowns about the Giants 2017 second-round pick. Tomlinson was named one of the NFL’s most underappreciated players by NFL Network’s Analytics Expert Cynthia Frelund.

“NGS shows that Tomlinson earned 19 run stuffs — those are plays when a defender tackles an opposing rusher for a gain of zero or negative yards — in 2019, tied for third in the NFL. This helped the Giants’ defense allow the fourth-lowest rushing average (3.86 yards per attempt) despite allowing the eighth-most yards per game (377.3).”

During his first two seasons, Tomlinson earned grades of 81.0 and 77.7 on Pro Football Focus - grades he earned by being the glue guy in the middle of the defense.

Over the 2019 season though, Tomlinson broke out as a pass rusher. For comparison sake, during the 2017-18 seasons, Tomlinson recorded just one quarterback hit. Last season though, Tomlinson had nine quarterback hits, along with a career-high 3.5 sacks and 13 QB pressures.

As Tomlinson enters his fourth year with the Giants, he has tried to prepare as best as possible through the team’s virtual meetings. He said that he has adapted well to defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s new scheme.

“The technique kind of reminds me of my Alabama days,” Tomlinson said. “You can only pick up so much on virtual meetings and things like that so I feel like I’ve picked up the playbook pretty well over the virtual meetings.”

Tomlinson said that he has an at-home gym at his home in New Jersey where he has been training to prepare for the 2020 season. Though he said that nothing compares to actually being on the field with teammates.

“The experience of just being on the football field and going through drills and things like that can’t really be replaced,” Tomlinson said. “Just going against another person on the field every day makes you a whole better player.”

But while the Giants cannot be on the field together right now, Tomlinson has still used his time at home to focus on details and improving technique.

“For defensive lineman, the closer you are to the ball, the quicker your reaction has to be,” Tomlinson said. “Your technique has to be precise. If you take one wrong step, it could be a bad play and bad down for you and the whole defense. So working on and critiquing your technique day in and day out is pretty crucial. You have to drill it in day in and day out even when you’re not even practicing.”

For these reasons, Tomlinson plays a crucial role in what many think is the one of the strongest position groups on the Giants heading into next season.

Tomlinson said that the offseason additions of cornerback James Bradberry and linebacker Blake Martinez will only make the team better.

“We’ve all been playing Call of Duty together every night just to get to know each other,” Tomlinson said. “I’m super excited to play with everybody we brought in. And I’m hoping everything clears up so we can get the pads on and get back to training camp so we can ll get used to working together.”

Tomlinson said that it’s a toss up between him and Martinez about the best player at Call of Duty.

Bradberry and Martinez will also join returning Giants Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams - a combination that Tomlinson said he is looking forward to.

“I love the energy [Williams] brings to the field every day,” Tomlinson said. “Those two are big, funny guys. I’m super excited to get back into the building with them and just keep building on what we had last year, and keep improving.”