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Safety Mykkele Thompson ready for fresh start

Posted Jun 11, 2016

Giants Safety Mykkele Thompson chats with Giants.com about his road to return:  

When you think about the 2015 Giants draft class, the safety you think of is second round pick Landon Collins. A player that has flown under the radar from that group is the team’s fifth round selection, Mykkele Thompson.

Thompson was rising on the depth chart last summer until he tore his Achilles tendon in his first preseason game, prematurely ending his rookie season. He was placed in injured reserve and spent 2015 and the early part of 2016 rehabbing to get back on the field.

“It’s a little sore now and then, but I believe I’m 100 percent,” Thompson said. “I’m just happy to be out there with the guys.”

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Thompson was not the only safety to be placed on injured reserve last year. Bennett Jackson tore his Achilles tendon and was placed on IR in the preseason. An ankle injury wiped out Justin Currie’s season. A nagging calf injury that required surgery shelved Nat Berhe and put him on injured reserve.

“Just being around each other every day, we built a close-knit bond,” said Thompson.  “It was definitely a challenge since it was the first major injury of my football career, all the way from when I first started playing.“

Despite not being allowed to be out on the field with his teammates, Thompson tried to stay engaged.

“There are certain rules you have to obey, but you try to do as much as you can,” the second-year man said. “From my perspective, it was different. My rehab schedule conflicted with meetings. You still retain the defenses and things like that.”

Some of that work last year has helped Thompson, but the defense has changed from when defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo first arrived last year.

“We’ve changed quite a few things up, so it was pretty much a fresh start for everybody,” Thompson said.  “Some things carried over and you retain those for the upcoming season. For the most part, we have new things coming in, so it has been a clean slate.”

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The safety position has been the source of a lot of discussion over the past two seasons. This year, the team is attacking the position with sheer numbers. Eight safeties are on the roster, none with more than four years of experience and five with two years or less under their belts.

One focus of head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese in building this roster has been fostering competition. There is no better example of that than at safety.
“It’s a great feeling because you know the man next to you is going to make you better,” Thompson said. “We’re all out here working for a job and doing the best you can do. The competition is great. You can do nothing but appreciate that someone is trying to make you better.”

The safeties have been rotating on the depth chart as Spagnuolo and safeties coach Dave Merritt try to find combinations that work. As is the case with all young players, there have been plenty of mistakes, but the group is learning quickly.

“There are some hiccups every now and then, but for the most part I’m able to retain everything from the classroom to the field and execute and put things on film,” Thompson said.

The goal is to have these young players form a core of young safeties to man the position for years to come. Thompson hopes he is part of that final group, but the first item on his check list is far simpler.

“Coming off an injury, my number one goal is to get through the first preseason game because that’s when I got hurt last year,” Thompson said. “My ultimate goal is to get on the final 53, but just making it through the first preseason game will put my mind at ease, for sure.”

He’ll have a chance to do that in just about two months, when the Giants kick off their preseason at Metlife Stadium against the Miami Dolphins on August 12th.