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Collins-Thompson safety tandem has impressive first outing

Posted Aug 14, 2016

Landon Collins and Darian Thompson are forming an impressive young safety duo: 

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Darian Thompson’s mentor is younger than he is.

Thompson, the Giants’ third-round draft choice this year, has been the first-team free safety since training camp opened. If he’s still there when the Giants begin their season in Dallas four weeks from today, Thompson will be the second rookie in as many years to start at free safety. Last year, it was second-round selection Landon Collins, who started all 16 games. Collins is now the strong safety.

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Although Thompson entered the NFL a year after Collins, he is 110 days older than his partner in the back of the defense. And “partner” is an accurate description, because Collins and Thompson are already a pair that’s well in-sync.

The duo further meshed when they played well into the second quarter – far longer than the other starters – in the Giants’ 27-10 preseason loss to Miami on Friday night.

“I feel like it went fantastic,” Collins said today. “We stayed on the same page, we stayed in tune with each other, we never faded off. And when we got to the sideline, we stayed communicating to make sure if we saw something, we had to ask about it so when we go back out there we see the same thing. That way, we can move on through it and be fast and be quick with our adjustments.”

Collins was credited with two tackles and Thompson one. But it was a memorable game for Thompson, the former Boise State star, because it was his first in the NFL.

“It was surreal in the locker room going out before kickoff,” Thompson said. “But I didn’t spend too much time thinking about it, because I knew the game was about to start and it was time to go.

“It was good to be out there on the field again, actually, and play football. As far as the next level, you can tell that the game is a little bit faster. Obviously, guys are a little bit bigger and stronger. But I had fun out there and I feel like that was the main thing. We have things to clean up on film, so that’s what we’re working on this week getting ready for Buffalo (where the Giants play Saturday).”

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No none on the team better understands what Thompson is experiencing professionally and emotionally than Collins, who walked the same path a year ago. Now, he is leading the way for his new partner.

“I tell him a lot,” Collins said. “I try to stay in his head, because it’s me and him back there. So I just try and keep in his ear. If he has something, he keeps in my ear, because he’s just my kid. He played a lot of football at Boise, and the same thing here. We just stay on top of each other and keep each other on our toes, so when we’re on the field nothing surprises us.”

The game definitely was not too big for Thompson.

Coach Ben McAdoo was impressed with the team’s new safety.

“Darian had a good start,” McAdoo said. “He was out there; he was 100 percent in his assignments or close to it. He communicated well. Special teams, he has some improvement to do there, so he can get better in special teams, but he had a nice night from a defensive perspective. And again, it is just a starting point.”

“(He’s been) fantastic, because not that many people can do that,” Collins said. “You don’t have to hold his hand, you don’t have to walk him through everything or keep him in tune as to what to look for and what to watch. He sees that before you’re even saying it. That’s the good thing.”

Behind Collins and Thompson, six safeties are vying for backup jobs. 

“Darian and Landon, they were solid,” McAdoo said. “Nat Berhe got some good snaps in there, as did Mykkele Thompson. It is really an open competition there. Cooper Taylor, you can throw in the mix, (Andrew) Adams, Bennett Jackson and (Justin) Currie - it is an open competition there behind them.”

Berhe had four tackles (two solo), including one for a loss in his first game since the end of the 2014 season. He missed all of 2015 with a calf injury.

“It was a long time,” Berhe said. “It felt really good to get the pads popping again. I’ve been through a lot and it was good for my soul.”

It will be even better if he can earn a spot on the final roster.

“It’s tight competition and everyone is battling for a job,” Berhe said. “So we’re just trying to take it day-by-day."