At the beginning of the 2018 offseason, the New York Giants hadn’t a clue of who would be their starting free safety come the regular season. The ever consistent but mental lapsing Andrew Adams has proved to be decent physically, but when it comes to positioning and vision he has struggled.
Darian Thompson was the expected starter this season but has combated hamstring issues. This injury has been a nagging problem, carrying over from last season. The Boise State product was expected to play a ball-hawk role for the Giants but has been all but effective. He showed some ability in coverage last season but he allowed far too many big plays to solidify his spot for the years ahead. To give you an idea of how lackluster he has been, in college he racked up 19 interceptions in four years, with the Giants he has managed just one in three years.
How did the New York Giants combat their issues at free safety?
When Big Blue signed former Dolphins safety Michael Thomas, they figured he would be most valuable on the special teams. Thomas is a freakishly good ST player, but he’s proven to be much more in recent weeks.
— PFF NY Giants (@PFF_Giants) August 29, 2018
Despite the safeties success during preseason, newcomer Curtis Riley has also displayed solid vision and tackling form. Riley is just 26 years old and has impressed in practice- he hasn’t opened many eyes during live games. For the most part, there has been no serious coverage issues on the back-end of the defense, which bodes well for Riley. Thomas has been playing primarily with the second team and impressing. This could earn him some additional reps moving forward, but I would expect defensive coordinator James Bettcher to play the hot hand.
The former Dolphin has shown the potential to be a starting safety. In 2015, he recorded 56 tackles and 2 passes defended. While that’s several years in the past it shows what he’s capable of. I wouldn’t expect him to emerge as a big time player, but if he can carry out his duties efficiently and keep big plays to a minimum, he will have done his job well.