EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Logan Ryan's COVID-provoked absence confirmed something about which he was already certain.
"Taking my 10 days off, it showed me how much I love football, how much I really missed it and really still want to be here for my teammates and still do it for years to come," Ryan said. "I was excited and encouraged and energized, obviously, sitting here doing a 15-minute press conference, 40 minutes after practice. I obviously really missed this and my role on this team."
Ryan returned to the practice field and will be in the lineup Sunday when the Giants face the Miami Dolphins in Hard Rock Stadium. He was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Nov. 19 after testing positive that week. At the time, the standout safety and team captain had started a team-long 24 consecutive games and led the Giants with 72 tackles (47 solo). Ryan regrets missing games against Tampa Bay and his friend and former teammate Tom Brady and last Sunday's 13-7 victory vs. against Philadelphia.
"I had them marked off," he said. "But when you play as long as I have (nine seasons), I have connections with every team."
"Mentally, it was the toughest part just not being there. I had hopes and thoughts and prayers that I could make it to both games. I thought it was a possibility and I packed my equipment for both. I did everything I could to try to get a negative test and I actually did, but it was just too close to game time. Trust me, I wanted to pull up in the parking lot with my uniform on and run in, right before kickoff, but the NFL doesn't allow it based on protocols and stuff like that. Very fortunate for me and my family that it wasn't too bad. But it is going around, I encourage people to treat it seriously and encourage people vaccinated or not, stay masked up and keep doing everything we can because it's still going around. Very fortunate though."
Ryan has numerous ties to the Dolphins, most of them stemming from his four seasons with the New England Patriots – when he also worked with Joe Judge.
"I know this team, I like this game," Ryan said. "We need it. It's going to be a good challenge out there in the heat. I know (Dolphins head coach) Brian Flores really well. I know (co-offensive coordinator/tight ends coach) George Godsey really well. I know (defensive coordinator) Josh Boyer, he was my coach in New England. So those three guys are coordinators, they were like running my scout team when I was on the scout team in New England, so I know those guys really well. I know how they think. They know how I think. They know how our coaches think. It's going to be a lot of familiarity on how the programs are run, how the defenses are run, and the emphasis on getting the ball and playing physical. It's going to be a good battle of kind of some programs who are kind of run at the top very similar in what they preach."
Not surprisingly, Ryan was more than a little antsy watching two games on TV. And yes, he had some moments when he wanted to jump through the screen and impose his will on the game he was watching.
"When I saw the clip of Tom Brady saying, 'Cover 2' in the middle of his drop back," Ryan said. "That's when I wished I was there to help disguise that a little bit better. It's well documented how smart he is and that was a game that he studied a lot. He needed his team, he needed to play well, and I think his approach was, 'I'm not going to try to go crazy. I'm going to take what the defense gives me and get my guys in positive plays.' That's what my approach needs to be on defense is to get the guys, it's not about making every play. Allow Zay (Xavier McKinney) to be Zay, allow Julian (Love) to be Julian, allow J.B. (cornerback James Bradberry) to be J.B. and get our defense into positive plays and do what we need to do. I really wish I was there for that one.
"Tom Brady was very good at reading us that game and I thought I could have made a difference there. At the end of the day, it was out of my control, it was taken from me. My brother said it to me best, if you're not feeling well and you've got to do the time, it's like going to jail, man. Do the time, don't let the time do you. I was trying to take advantage of that time. I couldn't do anything about it."
He stayed as active as possible with his wife, Ashley, daughter Avery (six), and son Otto (three) and tried to stay as active as possible.
"What I did for conditioning and all that, I had my kids home, I was bouncing on the trampoline two hours a day with them," Ryan said. "You can't do much. It was 30 degrees outside, so I said, 'Let's get some conditioning,' so we went on the trampoline. I threw my kids up in the air. I did tackling practice with my kids and I just did everything I could to be prepared to play if I had to.
"Fortunately, I recovered pretty quickly and I'm back here to get my wind back and back with the guys and I'm very excited to be back. They're happy to have me back, so it's always good."
View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins