Coaches don't have favorite players as much as parents don't have a preferred child. Still, Pat Shurmur has a particular affection for kicker Aldrick Rosas, who was recently voted to his first Pro Bowl a year after there were questions of whether or not he would even make the roster in 2018.
"I'm happy for the guys that are recognized and certainly in his case, he's recognized for having a terrific year," Shurmur said. "He's made some amazing kicks, and he's done a great job with his kickoffs. He had one that went out of bounds. He gets one in a career I told him, so that was his only one. But, no, I've been pleased with what he's done this year.
"You hate to say you have favorite players, but he's one of my favorites. You've heard me talk about how he's not just a kicker, he's a football player. He's a big guy, he's got a presence, and he's competitive. So I appreciate all the good in Aldrick and the fact that he was recognized is great."
The second-year pro was one of three Giants named to the NFC team. Saquon Barkley became the team's first rookie running back to make the Pro Bowl since Tucker Frederickson in 1965, while safety Landon Collins was selected for the third consecutive year.
"I don't know how to describe it – shocking," Rosas said. "Just to get that support and votes from my peers and the fans and everybody in the building, this organization just being behind me, it's real special."
Rosas has made 28 of 29 field goal attempts this season, including a franchise-record 57-yarder in Week 13 against the Chicago Bears. In that game, he later kicked the game-winner in overtime from 44 yards. His only miss was a 52-yard attempt against Philadelphia in Week 6. Rosas appeared on the injury report in the short week leading up to that Thursday night game with a quad issue on his kicking leg.
This is all a far cry from a 2017 season which every Giant would like to forget. "One would say that for sure," said Rosas, who missed seven field goal attempts (two were blocked) and failed on three extra point attempts (of which two more were blocked). Nevertheless, the Giants stuck with the leg of Rosas, never even bringing in a veteran kicker to compete with him in the offseason.
"Given last year, just to be in the conversation this year was real special to me," Rosas said. "All the credit to the snapper (Zak DeOssie) and the holder (Riley Dixon). These guys come in and work their tail off, and we have a lot of fun doing it."
Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey, who was not with the team last year, credits the 6-foot-3, 233-pound kicker's mindset as the biggest difference.
"I think he's kind of shared with you guys how he approaches every kick -- it's just good or bad, and it's about the next kick," McGaughey said last week before the Pro Bowl rosters were announced. "He just focuses on where the ball is, put the ball down, let me kick it, and lock into that moment, stay in the moment. Once that one is gone, it's gone, and on to the next one. I think he's had some success with that. I think moving forward, it'll be a formula he'll stick with, and look forward to really good things from him."
Last season wasn't the only time adversity hit the undrafted prospect from Southern Oregon University. In the 2014 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Football National Championship Game, which his Raiders won, 55-31, over Marian (Ind.), Rosas tore his ACL making a tackle near the end of the fourth quarter. He did not play another college game.
"Yeah, it's starting to kind of hit now in these last couple of hours, and even last night," Rosas said. "Just how, NAIA and small high school, just to last year, to kind of now. The story is still kind of getting written. When you're around a great group of guys, and a great organization, great fans, it's just a huge blessing."
*Linebacker Alec Ogletree did not practice today after being placed in the concussion protocol. Safety Michael Thomas, who was named a first alternate for the Pro Bowl as a special teamer, was excused for personal reasons due to an illness in his family. Center Spencer Pulley (calf) and wide receivers Russell Shepard (ankle) and Odell Beckham Jr., who has missed the last two games with a lingering quad injury, did not practice. Defensive lineman Kerry Wynn (thumb) was limited. Pulley left last week's game against the Titans with the injury and was replaced by John Greco, who has started six games, including four at center, for the Giants this season.
*Shurmur was asked if the Giants would consider shutting down Beckham for the rest of the season with the team out of playoff contention. "No," he said. "At this point, I think it's a player's responsibility to do everything they can to get on the field and get back into games. We're coaches and players, and we play the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, so it's important that we do everything we can to show up."
Shurmur added: "I think it's important that all the healthy players are ready to play in the game. I guess that question leads into that these two games aren't important, and I don't believe that. I think what's important is that we as a team do everything we can to go out there and play the game and try to win the game. Running parallel with all the thoughts moving forward in the offseason is this team trying to learn how to win again. And again, I'm speaking as the coach, where we're doing everything in our power to put a plan together to win the game. That requires that all the players do everything in their power if they're injured to make it back for the game, and then if for some reason they can't, then you do it for the next week. So that's the philosophy."
*The Giants bolstered their wide receiver corps today when they activated Cody Latimer off injured reserve. The five-year veteran took the roster spot of defensive back Antonio Hamilton, who was placed on I.R. with a quad injury suffered Sunday against Tennessee.