The two are now together with the Giants and when reporters on Monday asked Ryan, who was fresh off his first practice with the team, how he might expect to be used the 29-year-old knew exactly how he was expected to answer the question.
“Where I line up from week to week will definitely be G-5 classified, team first. Joe Judge will tell you later type of answer,” Ryan said via a Zoom videoconference.
Judge said last week that Ryan would “play a variety of roles” for the Giants.
Those could include boundary cornerback, slot cornerback, free safety and just about anything else Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham can cook up.
Ryan was a boundary cornerback who played some slot early in his career. He transitioned to a slot cornerback playing some boundary in recent seasons. At 29 and in his eighth season, he expressed an interest during the offseason in playing safety.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I think the evolution is to be a DB and study all the positions and the arts of it. Like we talked about, I played perimeter corner a lot in my career and obviously played the slot position, safety. It’s a part of my game and whatever the team needs me to do from week to week. I think it gives us great versatility with myself, Jabrill Peppers. Julian Love is a former corner playing safety. I think that gives us position flexibility,” Ryan said.
“Honestly, this is a matchup league. This isn’t 1980s football where you go out there and you have four positions, you run a four three which is two safeties and two corners. I think the game is evolving a little bit and I think the more positions flexibility you have, I think it gives you the ability to do more stuff on defense.”
Ryan said he would do “everything I can preparation wise” to be ready for next Monday’s season opener vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers despite just beginning work with his new team.
“Luckily, I have played for Pat Graham, I’ve played for Joe Judge before,” Ryan said. “It’s a system that I’m familiar with. I played in the system before in my career, so I think that helped me a little bit with the terminology and things of that nature.”
Ryan admitted that Judge and Graham had a lot to do with his decision to play for th eGiants.
“The Giants were not the only team interested. It was not my only offer,” he said. “Having a conversation on the phone definitely steered it his way and Pat Graham as well. We talked a lot about what I can bring and how they believed in me. I think this gave me the best ability to make plays and just showcase my talent for the team. 100 percent, it had a huge significance.”
In addition to his connections with Judge and Graham, Ryan is a Berlin, N.J. native who played collegiately at Rutgers. The Giants always appeared to make sense for Ryan as a free agent destination.
“It’s been a crazy year, you never know where you will end up, you never know how it’s going to go,” Ryan said. “Coming home was definitely something that I always thought about. Joe Judge, playing for him and the familiarity with him and Pat Graham like I said, was definitely a huge swing in that favor.”
Like most Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ryan had more time in recent months to be around his family in Nashville.
“COVID gave me a ton of perspective. Like everybody, you’re not at work, you get to stay home a little more. I obviously haven’t been working for five months, it was Harley and my two kids. They’re used to having daddy,” Ryan said. “I’m the Phys Ed teacher, at my daughter’s kindergarten class. I do science, I do art and I do Phys. Ed and my wife does the other stuff. We just play all day. I really enjoyed being home with my family, enjoyed that time.”
Family time or not, Ryan said he is prepared to play.
“Obviously been a grinder in this league for a lot of years. Going into my eighth year here, I’ve played for some tough coaches, tough programs, played in a lot of big games. It was good to have that little mental break,” he said. “I’ve been preparing the whole time. I put myself through my own training camp with no cameras on me. Being able to come home and play 20 minutes from Rutgers and an hour from where I grew up, it’s a dream come true. I’m so grateful for the opportunity honestly.”