On Saturday there were five standing.
Mike Patterson was one of the five after the Giants reduced their roster to 53 this weekend, and the former longtime Philadelphia Eagle is ready for the opportunity that his new team and the new season will bring.
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With Markus Kuhn spending the first six weeks on the physically unable to perform list, the defensive tackle competition was overshadowed by the one behind it at linebacker. But the interior was just as crowded as one of the Giants’ main aims was to beef up their run defense.
In the end, the veterans won out.
Aside from Johnathan Hankins, whom the Giants drafted in the second round this year, there are 37 years of NFL experience among the other four tackles. Linval Joseph, who has been a Giants’ starter since 2011, is the youngest of the vets as he heads into his fourth season. Meanwhile, Shaun Rogers is the longest tenured player on the Giants with 13 years in the league. Cullen Jenkins has 11 under his belt, while Patterson has nine.
Patterson, who signed with the Giants in early April after eight seasons in Philadelphia, racked up nine tackles in four preseason games, including 1.5 sacks in the finale against New England. That left a good taste in the mouths of decision makers, and Patterson was confident the Giants brought him in to keep him for the season. But anything can happen on cut-down day, even for a veteran.
It was the first time the former 31st overall draft selection sweated out a day like Saturday.
“It was almost like being drafted again,” he said. “It was kind of tough, but I’m just happy the opportunity came around and I was able to make the most of it. And I’m here. I feel real blessed. I feel real thankful.”
Patterson and those close to him have a lot to be thankful for as he comes back from brain surgery, which he underwent in January 2012. After starting at least 14 games in each of his previous six seasons, Patterson played in a five-game stretch in the middle of last year.
Jenkins, a fellow Eagle-turned-Giant, was his teammate at the time and for the last two seasons in Philadelphia, making their first year with the Giants their third together.
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Jenkins knows what Patterson brings to the table.
“One thing about Mike is he’s a hard worker and he’s got a heck of an ability out there on the field,” Jenkins said. “Mike can play against the run, he can hold up the front big time, and he can rush the passer. We always mess with him – he doesn’t look like it, but he’s a heck of a player.”
The two will make their debuts against a familiar rival when the Giants open at the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.
“I’m sure the mentality is still set,” Patterson said about facing the NFC East rival with the Giants. “They want to go out there and get those guys and go out there and play really good. I’m sure we’ll have something good for them.”