For most Giants, April 16 marks the end of the party. It's the first day of the offseason workouts, the day that the Super Bowl victory earned only 10 weeks earlier starts to get pushed into memory and the focus begins for 2012. Vacation is over.
But don't think Chad Jones won't be thrilled to be going back to work. The fact that he's able to participate in the offseason program at all is cause enough for him to celebrate.
"It's something I've been working toward for the last two years, ever since the day of my car wreck," Jones said in a telephone interview this past week. "It's just going to be a great feeling being back there in a football atmosphere, being around teammates and being in a different city and being where Giants fans are. Everything will be picture-perfect."
Jones was a third-round pick of the Giants in the 2010 draft whose career was derailed on June 25, 2010, when he nearly lost his life in a single-car accident in his native New Orleans. He's rehabbed from those severe injuries -- which included a mangled leg -- and has popped up now and then in the past two years at the Giants' facility or on their sideline to lend support (he was there when the Giants beat the Patriots in Indianapolis).
Now he's ready to take the field. He'll arrive in New Jersey next Sunday night and will be among the first Giants through the door the next morning.
"I'm definitely going up there to show what I can do," Jones said. "I'm looking forward to being able to participate and show that I can still move around with the guys and I'm looking forward to it just to show them. Even if it's two or three reps to show that I can still do it and I still have it in me."
Jones admits he doesn't expect the Giants' trainers to allow him to do even that. At first, he'll most likely be relegated to more rehab, maybe a few easy runs and stretches on the sideline. But considering he's come this far, he's allowed to dream bigger than that.
"I'm trying to see how much they'll let me work out, if when the team is doing drills, if they'll let me do 7-on-7s," he said.
It's been almost three weeks since Jones had the 14th and, he says, final surgery stemming from that car accident. He said he recently had five screws removed from his leg. The doctors wanted him to have the surgery earlier, he said, but he wanted to continue his rehab so he'd be strong enough to come back from this procedure. Sure enough, the day after the removal, he was up and walking.
Jones said he still is only at 80 percent and doesn't expect to be at 100 percent until sometime in the middle of the upcoming season. "As you get better, you hit walls, so you know it's not going to be straight to 100 percent," he said.
The Giants are not acting as if they're counting on having Jones. They drafted Tyler Sash last spring, and he's likely to be their third safety behind starters Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle heading into the season. They also acquired safeties Stevie Brown and Chris Horton in free agency. They weren't splashy moves, but they were at Jones' position, and they'll be his primary competition come training camp.
That's not in Jones' mind now, anyway. He's focused on taking little steps back, and the first little step will be showing up for work a week from Monday.
"I'll go in there level-headed," he said. "I think I'll try not to show my emotions. I'll just be there looking around, trying to blend in with the crowd. I'll be happy to be in uniform, workout shoes, the whole nine yards, and be 100 percent a part of the team."