Jayron Hosley already has stepped into the starting lineup this season. When Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie missed the Washington game, he played in his place, and when DRC and Prince Amukamara have had to come to the sideline during games, Hosley has jumped in.
That experience is one of the reasons Hosley -- and the Giants -- are confident that he can handle what could be the next month without Amukamara.
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"I think my play was good," Hosley said. "It's time to be great now."
That's something he probably wouldn't have even considered a year ago when his confidence was at an all-time low as a football player. He rode the bench through the second half of the season even when there were openings for his services. It got to the point that he began to wonder if he had a future with the Giants.
But in came a new defensive coordinator. And a new cornerbacks coach. And, remarkably, a new Hosley. That new (and vastly improved) player will be on display as Amukamara heals from a partially torn pectoral muscle that will keep him sidelined for two to four weeks.
"He's done well," Tom Coughlin said of Hosley. "When he's been called upon, whether it's special teams or defense, he's done well . . . We played a game and won a game with Hosley starting at corner. He'll have to jump in there and do that, which I'm sure he's excited about."
"It's unfortunate to have a teammate go down, but you have to be ready," Hosley said. "I'm ready for the challenge."
Hosley said he heard about the Amukamara injury earlier this week and knew he would be starting. "It's understood," he said.
Hosley said he's matured as a person and devoted himself to studying more and being more focused. He's also rebuilt his crumbled confidence out of the rubble of the first three years of his career.
"I've always been confident in my game, but when you go through some things, it kind of affects you," Hosley said. "I'm still building. It's a blessing to still be able to play this game and have opportunities like this at the Giants. I'm ready to keep proving to my teammates and my coaches that, look, if you keep believing in me, I'm going to keep proving myself."
No matter how well Hosley plays, Amukamara will be missed. He was one of the best players in a defense that is last in the league against the pass and has been susceptible to late-game drives. He is second on the team with 32 tackles (26 solo) and has a team-high seven passes defensed along with an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
"It's most unfortunate," Coughlin said. "He's made a lot of plays this fall."
Amukamara said he injured himself on a third-quarter tackle. He finished the game against the 49ers after doctors told him the pectoral tendon still was attached. He said it bothered him running more than with any upper-body movements and that he still was able to press against receivers.
Amukamara said he will have another MRI in two weeks to determine the healing progress. By then, Hosley's play will have determined just how costly an injury it turned out to be. "We're going to keep moving forward and hope Prince comes back with a speedy recovery," Hosley said. "If not, I have to do my job."