CINCINNATI –** Jayron Hosley believes this training camp and preseason could well determine whether he continues playing for the Giants or is forced to start over in a new uniform.
"It's a fight, it's a fight," Hosley said. "It's a fight in this league. You've got some good corners on this team. You've got to be on your P's and Q's, man. These guys are hungry. You've got to come hungry, too. I still haven't eaten, I'm still hungry. My stomach is empty, that's how I approach it. It's tough, corner is a tough position in this league. But, you've got to be mentally tough to be able to take it."
The Giants had high hopes for Hosley when they selected him on the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, from Virginia Tech. And while he's had positive moments, Hosley's career has followed a trajectory neither he nor the team anticipated.
That was particularly true last year. Hosley missed the first four games as he served a suspension for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, and fifth game while under a roster exemption. He played in six games with two starts and had eight solo tackles and a pass defensed. But he was inactive for the final five games, as the coaches decided to go with other cornerbacks.
Often used as a slot corner in the past, Hosley has played more frequently on the outside in this camp. Tom Coughlin was asked after yesterday's joint practice with the Bengals if Hosley has looked "different" there.
"I'm hoping," Coughlin said. "He certainly came back in excellent condition, and I think he's very serious about it right now and he's trying. He senses this is a critical, critical camp for him. We're all hoping he comes through in the fashion we thought of him when we drafted him."
The Giants currently have 11 corners on their roster. The starters are Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara (currently sidelined with a groin injury). Chykie Brown is back in New Jersey after suffering a knee injury in practice last week. Trumaine McBride, Mike Harris, Josh Gordy, Trevin Wade and Chandler Fenner are all potential obstacles between Hosley and a spot on the regular-season roster.
"All I can say is that I'm blessed to be here and having the opportunity with the Giants," Hosley said. "It's a new leaf for me. Understanding what I've been through, and the ups and downs of my career. Right now, I'm approaching it like it's a fight. It's a grind every day, and just trying to make the best of my opportunities. I understand that it's accountability, its production. That's what it's about.
"If I can get better at one thing every day, I'll be happy with that. A journey of 5,000 miles begins with just one step. That's how I approach it, just every day remind myself of why I'm here, what I'm capable of, and that it's just a blessing. You've got to take advantage of it."
Hosley hopes to become an updated version of Corey Webster, who was a second-round draft choice in 2005. Like Hosley, Webster didn't play a full 16-game season in any of his first three years. He was a healthy scratch in his third season in 2007, just as Hosley was at the end of last year. But Webster got an opportunity to start all four postseason games that year and played exceptionally well. He went on to start 74 consecutive regular-season games before his final season in 2013 was cut short by injuries.
"I've spoken to people about that," Hosley said. "I haven't spoken to him directly about the situation. But you never know where this game will take you. You never know, when it comes down to coaching, who's going to be here and who's not. I've seen this team change so much in just the past three years. I approach it as a new leaf for me. I like the coaching, I like the guys they brought in. I'm blessed to be here, and I'm going to make it work for me and for this team, and we're going to make it work to the best of our abilities. It's some good coaching, some good defense we're running out there. I know guys are excited about it, I'm excited about it, and we're ready to compete."
No one more than Hosley. Despite his ups and downs, he plans to play for the Giants for a long time.
"There are a lot of times where it's a very demanding game," he said. "Being a young guy coming into this game, all types of things come at you. It's pressure. You have to understand how to handle it. I lost track of what was important. I'm more mature now, I'm more focused. I understand what it's about. I know what's important to me. This is what I love to do. I protect this game like it's my baby, so why would I bring other things into my life to affect that and shorten my career? That's how I approach it now.
"I wasn't producing at the nickel position. So they had to bring somebody in, and this league is about production. You've got to check the Carfax. This car hasn't been performing, so you've got to make a switch and whatever you decide to do. At the end of the day, I know what kind of player I am, and what kind of player I can be and want to be."
Now he must prove it to the Giants.
Giants players speak with the media before joint practice with the Bengals