Derrick Johnson tried to focus on the football, only he couldn't help but glance at the skyline.
The Brooklyn native who played high school football at Holy Trinity is a tryout wide receiver at this weekend's Giants rookie minicamp. That's a long, long way from earning an invitation to training camp or even a roster spot, but it's a foot in the door. And it has Johnson at least considering what it might be like to not only be in the NFL, but to do it in New York.
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So as he went through Friday's workout, he looked beyond MetLife Stadium and its parking lots and toward the not-too-distant symbol of his hometown.
"I was looking over and I saw the Empire State Building," he said. "That's always a good feeling to see that. It kind of motivates me a little bit."
Johnson isn't entirely new to the NFL. He signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Maine last spring, but injured his knee in OTAs. The Pats waived him and then brought him back for training camp, but he was one of the cuts when the roster went to 53 players. He also was on the Bucs' practice squad shortly during the 2014 season but dislocated his finger.
And now he's at the Giants. For a few days, anyway.
Johnson said he didn't grow up a Giants fan specifically but has always followed the career of Victor Cruz. He was at Maine when the Black Bears played Cruz and UMass, and has watched as the fellow receiver blazed his path into the NFL.
"Watching his journey here, it's amazing to come from a small school like I did," Johnson said. "It's a lot of motivation for me."
Other than their brief passing in college, Johnson said he has not yet met Cruz.
If he makes it through this weekend and earns a contract from the Giants, he will. They'll be teammates.
"That's the plan," he said.