DT Jay Bromley started for the Giants in the team's preseason opner:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Jay and Alexis Bromley today celebrated their first anniversary. Yes, they were married during training camp last year – a day after the preseason opener to be exact.
As she frequently does during camp, Alexis attended practice today, along with her parents. But this year is different for Jay. Unlike his first three seasons, the defensive tackle has a legitimate chance to start alongside All-Pro Damon "Snacks" Harrison.
While Bromley is certain he is a better player than he was last season, he is quick to admit that his path to the first team opened up when Johnathan Hankins left to join the Indianapolis Colts.
"My first three years, I had Johnathan Hankins on my team. It turns out he is a decent defensive tackle," Bromley said. "And then I had Snacks on the team last year, so that made it that much more difficult. But this is a great opportunity right now.
"(Hankins' departure) opened up an opportunity for me. Nothing is easy in this league, but definitely if Hank would have come back, that would have made starting a lot more (difficult). I think it is a blessing that he did what he did, that way it is a win-win situation. He didn't have to lose anything from me to win. I am just fortunate to be in the situation I am in right now. I am a better player now then I have ever been, so everything is just falling into place."
Bromley started the Giants' loss to Pittsburgh in the preseason opener on Friday night and was credited with three tackles, including one for a loss.
"I think Jay's improving," coach Ben McAdoo said. "He's playing with some hostility out there, he's playing aggressive, playing physical football."
When camp opened, the Giants appeared to have a three-man competition for the starting tackle job, with Robert Thomas and second-round draft choice Dalvin Tomlinson vying with Bromley. But Thomas has been sidelined recently with what McAdoo called soreness, so now it appears to be Bromley and Tomlinson.
"It's still early to say, but those two seem to have a leg up now," McAdoo said, "especially with Robert being out."
Bromley was a third-round draft choice in 2014. He played in eight games as a rookie and had his best season in 2015, playing in all 16 games, including his only four starts, and finishing with 36 tackles (19 solo). Last year, he played in 15 games without a start and had 14 tackles. One of them was his first NFL sack, a five-yard takedown of the Rams' Case Keenum in London.
"I had the most productivity my second year," Bromley said. "I feel like the more I play, the better I play. You get more comfortable in the system, more comfortable in your own skin and knowing that as soon as I make a mistake, I am not looking toward the sideline like I am about to get pulled out. That trust you build with the coach, you know where you are going to be 90 percent of the time and him trusting you to do the right thing."
Bromley said in his first two years if he didn't execute his assignment perfectly, he wondered if he would get pulled from the game. Last year, he let go of that fear.
"Honest to God truth, the one thing I learned from watching Hankins and Snacks was I don't care about mistakes," Bromley said. "I work my tail off to know my fundamentals well, to be in the right place with my eyes, my hands and my feet. Know my place. Know where I have to be. I don't really worry about mistakes. The great ones have short-term memories. I have seen the best players make mistakes. So, it's not about the mistake, it's about how you rebound and what you do next time and that's how you build trust."
Bromley is also building it with Tomlinson, the rookie with whom he is competing.
"Jay and me just focus on getting better each and every day, because we both want to contribute to the team in the long run," Tomlinson said.
"I have always been one of those guys where I am going to help you the best way I can," Bromley said. "I was fortunate enough to come in here with guys like Cullen Jenkins, Mike Paterson, Mathias Kiwanuka; I had a bunch of old vets in here and they never steered me the wrong way. They always helped me out the best they could, so I look forward to doing the same thing with him. I am going to beat out the competition at their best and they are going to make me better."
The Giants give their tackles ample rest during games, so the top reserves should see plenty of action.
"I just want to contribute to the team as much as possible and just get better each and every day," Tomlinson said.
Spoken like a rookie who knows what he's talking about.