Safety Nat Berhe steps up with Darian Thompson week-to-week

Posted Aug 22, 2016

Giants safety Nat Berhe tooks first-team reps at practice with Darian Thompson sidelined: 

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants’ starting defense was about to take the field in this afternoon’s walk-thru when a coach said to safety Nat Berhe, “Hey Nat, with the ones.”

“I'm like, ‘Okay, alright,’” Berhe said.

And just like that, Berhe learned he was first up with starter Darian Thompson sidelined.


Thompson, the rookie third-round draft choice who has been the first-team free safety since the beginning of training camp, suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason game in Buffalo on Saturday. He will not play in the MetLife Bowl Saturday vs. the Jets and will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis.

Berhe, it seems, is in line to start in his place.

“The hope is there to play a lot,” Berhe said.

For Berhe, such an opportunity would be particularly meaningful because he missed the entire 2015 season with a calf injury. This summer, he has worked hard to separate himself from the Giants’ competitive group of safeties.

“I think every rep is important,” Berhe said. “Whether it's with the ones, whether it's with the threes, a rep is still a rep.

“I always have confidence in myself and, for me, opportunities are unlimited as long as think they are.”

Berhe had four tackles (two solo) in the preseason opener vs. Miami, and two solo stops Saturday in Buffalo.

“I thought I did pretty well,” he said. “I just wanted to be relentless to the ball. That was my main focus, and just show up on the screen (when the coaches view the tape).”

Should Berhe start vs. the Jets, he will be opposite Landon Collins, the second-year pro who is entrenched at strong safety. But he assumes nothing.

“Only count your eggs when they hatch,” Berhe said. “We'll see when we play the Jets, but Landon has grown a lot as a player from watching him until now. Even watching him on film, I'm like, ‘Wow, this dude really progressed and has gotten better.’ His style is he'll hit you in the mouth and he's kind of a heavier dude than I am. But I just like to be around the ball.”

Berhe was the Giants’ fifth-round draft choice in 2014, from San Diego State. As a rookie, he played in all 16 games, primarily on special teams. He likely would have played more last year had he not joined Bennett Jackson and Mykkele Thompson as safeties who suffered season-ending injuries in training camp.

Now Berhe is making up for lost time.


“I just take each day as it is, and just practice,” Berhe said. “I don't like to really think too far ahead. Did I see it coming? No. Who knew DT (Thompson) was going to go out and get hurt. Who knew?”

Well, nobody. But now Berhe has a bigger and better opportunity to show the coaches how well he can play.

•  Jason Pierre-Paul certainly seems confident in the potential of the Giants’ defensive line.

“There is no limit,” JP said. “We’re striving to be the best at each and every position. Each guy knows what they’ve got to do and what it takes to get better. So individually, you have to work hard and prepare yourself and try to strive yourself to the next level. I think that's what everybody is doing right now. Guys are just running around getting these preseason games in. Come September 11th, we'll be ready to go to war. The team will be there, and the team will be set, and we know what we’ve got to work with.”
•  Center Weston Richburg answered separate questions about fan “panic” and “disappointment” regarding the offensive line by saying, “It is the second week of the preseason. … It takes a lot to get the run fits together and we still have two preseason games, two preseason weeks to get some good work in. We saw some things on film that we are looking forward to going out and working on getting better.”

•  Tight end Matt LaCosse has a knee injury and is day-to-day.