Safety Darian Thompson reflects on his shortened rookie season and sets goals for year two.
Ben McAdoo has challenged his players to make a 1 percent gain every day. A reminder is even printed on the shirts they've been wearing around the Quest Diagnostics Training Center this offseason.
For safety Darian Thompson, that's all he could do after undergoing season-ending surgery on his foot last November. His promising start as a rookie amounted to just two games played in 2016.
"It was extremely frustrating, but at the same time, I got to learn a whole lot last year," Thompson said. "So I kind of look at it as a redshirt year in college, and I just took that time to better myself as a player and as a teammate to get ready for this year coming up."
On Monday, the Giants begin organized team activities (OTAs), a series of 10 practices where the entire team is on the field for the first time this spring. It was this time a year ago when Thompson, a third-round pick out of Boise State and the Mountain West's all-time interceptions leader, shot to the top of the depth chart playing opposite Landon Collins.
But then the injuries struck.
First, a shoulder issue forced him to miss the final two preseason games. Thompson returned to play in the season opener in Dallas and made his first career start a week later at home against New Orleans. However, the following week he hurt his foot. He missed five games before attempting to practice after the bye week, but the pain forced him off the field, that time for good.
So Thompson did what any player on injured reserve can do – study.
"I got to learn a little bit more on how each individual player plays," Thompson said. "Everybody plays different, and for me playing safety, that's kind of important. So just to kind of learn the guys on and off the field and see how they actually play the game is big for me."
As the last line of defense, Thompson needs to know what every player is doing in front of him on every snap. That goes double for the other half of the safety tandem, which could be Collins. While undrafted rookie Andrew Adams took over and started in place of Thompson, Collins broke out with an All-Pro campaign last season. Now the competition is on to be his partner in 2017.
"I think we're a perfect duo," Thompsons said of playing with Collins. "He's an in-the-box guy, a big guy, and I like to play center field. So we'll see what happens."