Giants CB Terrell Thomas making last ACL stand

After three major knee injuries, New York Giants cornerback
Terrell Thomas knows this is probably his last chance to salvage
his career.

Thomas practiced Tuesday for the first time since training camp
opened. He started camp on the active physically unable to perform
list.

Once the Giants’ top cornerback and leading tackler, Thomas has
missed the last two seasons with anterior cruciate ligament
injuries in his right knee. The injury in 2011 happened in a
preseason game.

The second occurred last year on the first weekend of camp. The
six-year veteran also had an ACL injury while at Southern
California.

Understandably, the odds are against him. However, Thomas wants
to face the challenge. His goal is to play when New York opens the
season Sept. 8 at Dallas.

”I’m a huge fan of the way he’s been gong though this whole
process as far as his rehabbing and keeping his eye on the prize
and never counting himself out,” safety Antrel Rolle said.

”Even when times got tough for him once, even when times got
almost impossible for him twice, he’s still hanging in there, he’s
still doing the things he needs to do to get on the field. And he
still has the same strength as far as a mindset. He doesn’t want to
come in just to fill a role. He wants to come in to play, he wants
to come in to be a starter, he wants to come in to compete.”

Unlike a year ago, neither Thomas nor the team is in a rush to
see what he can do. He’ll take maybe half the snaps at practice,
and be cautious whenever necessary.

He tweaked a hamstring during conditioning drills when the team
reported July 26, and that led to his spot on the PUP list, he
said.

”I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. ”I’ve been waiting
for this moment, so I think it’s natural to be nervous when you’ve
been playing so long.”

Thomas took a few snaps in 7-on-7 drills and was beaten by
Victor Cruz on a quick crossing pattern.

”A lot of people have been rooting for me and I’m happy just to
be in a position to be blessed to have another opportunity, but
it’s just Day 1,” he said. ”It’s a long road ahead of me and I
know that, but I’m not afraid of any challenge or test. I just have
to be prepared.”

The Giants’ leading tackler in 2009 and `10, Thomas will face a
challenge at cornerback with veterans Corey Webster, Prince
Amukamara, Aaron Ross and Jayron Hosley all competing for time.

What Thomas has working for him is that he is an excellent
student of the game. And when healthy he could be used in the
nickel spot or as a third safety if defensive coordinator Perry
Fewell wanted extra quickness.

”The major thing is to get him on the field, get him
practicing, bring him along accordingly, and then let him show
us,” coach Tom Coughlin said. ”I’m not speculating for a reason.
He has been an outstanding football player and we think he can be
again. Of course, we have to get him on the field. This is a good
start. It will be slow, but we’ll get to that point.”

Thomas is focused more on his job than the competition. He is
driven by a desire to prove his doubters wrong, the people who
insist a player can’t come back from three ACL operations.

This, however, is his last stand.

”That’s how I look at it, to be honest with you because in this
league, it comes by and they’re looking for the next guy and
there’s always competition, especially when you have a lot of
injuries, they count you out,” he said. ”But you never know. I’m
not looking at it that way, but I’m pushing myself to say this is
my last chance to prove a lot of people wrong and to get back on
the field.”

NOTES: Thomas and starting G Chris Snee (hip) were activated off
the PUP list. …DE Jason Pierre-Paul said he is making progress in
his rehabilitation from back surgery in June but is unsure if he
will be ready for the season opener. … Coughlin had a few words
for Fewell after S Ryan Mundy knocked down RB Ryan Torain and LB
Jacquian Williams knocked down RB Da’Rel Scott. … Safety Stevie
Brown also knocked down Victor Cruz after the receiver caught a
pass, but that seemed an accident. … OL James Brewer was dinged
early in practice and TE Larry Donnell rolled his left ankle. …
First-round draft pick (OT) Justin Pugh did not practice because of
a concussion.