Dalvin Tomlinson reached some impressive benchmarks through his first three NFL seasons. Yet, his No. 94 jerseys don't exactly fly off the shelves.
This could be the year they go in high demand.
"I am super excited about the new defense," Tomlinson said. "I want to be able to help in the run and pass game this year and just keep improving across the whole board. Help out and be disruptive in the middle as much as possible throughout the whole season. … I feel like I am super aggressive on the inside. The scheme is fun. It reminds me of the Alabama defense and the Alabama days and the techniques I used to use and stuff like that."
Tomlinson is the first Giants player to start every game in his first three seasons with the team since safety Antrel Rolle (2010-12), the first draft choice to do so since offensive lineman David Diehl (2003-05), and the first defensive draft choice to start his first 48 games since cornerback Perry Williams (1984-86). The former second-round pick from the University of Alabama also holds the Giants' longest active starting streak.
So, at the "old" age of 26, he has become the elder statesman of the team.
"Everybody knows it's a business," said Tomlinson, who is one of two pro players (Denver tackle Garett Bolles) from the 2017 draft class to start every game since entering the NFL. "You have to be able to understand that coming in. I just keep my head down and focus on getting better each and every day and keep working. That's all you can do. I'm just blessed to be in the position I'm in and be in this chair talking to you guys. Come in each and every day and don't take a day for granted."
Photos from the career of defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson
Of course, in 2020, his familiarity with the Giants doesn't exactly mean what it used to mean. Tomlinson returned to a completely remodeled training camp setup, which moved from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center to MetLife Stadium and adheres to every safety protocol that exists, even down to the placement of cereal containers in the cafeteria.
"It's super different," Tomlinson said. "Social distancing is the biggest thing to get used to, making sure you're always six feet apart and things like that. It's super different, different location, you're used to being in the facility just right there with everyone and everything is super close. Things are a lot more spread out now."
Tomlinson added, "Yeah, everyone is spread out [in the locker room] and we're yelling over to make sure everyone can hear you through the mask. You might lose your voice every now and again."
One of those muffled voices is Dexter Lawrence, a 2019 first-round round pick who started all 16 games as a rookie and logged nearly 900 snaps between defense and special teams. Tomlinson said there is a marked difference in the fellow big man.
"The biggest difference is you get used to the NFL, the meetings and things like that," Tomlinson said. "I guess you get a little but more comfortable going into your second year. Everybody, as a rookie coming in, you are nervous because you are a rookie. Now he is a second-year player. He comes in with his work hat on every day ready to work. I love the energy he brings and just how excited he is to come to work and get better each day."
Together, they are learning a new scheme under assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who was Tomlinson's position coach as a rookie in his first stint with the Giants.
"He is a great guy who has grown a lot," Tomlinson said. "You can just tell it's a lot of pretty much the same techniques. I always catch him coming into the D-line room and talking to us all the time. We are his favorite group, I guess you could say, because he used to be a D-line coach. He's always teaching us different techniques that remind me of the stuff he used to teach my rookie year. A lot of great stuff going on and we just keep improving on the techniques he's teaching us."