CINCINNATI - Jayron Hosley is the next man up at cornerback for the Giants. And that in itself is a big step forward.
Last year when the Giants secondary was so ravaged by injuries that they were bringing players in off the street to fill the roster, Hosley still couldn't get on the field. There would be cornerbacks who had participated in just a week's worth of practice out there playing, and Hosley would be on the sideline, buried at the bottom of a not very deep depth chart. The former third-round pick was a bust, having served a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy and never quite being able to play the slot cornerback role in which the Giants tried to use him.
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Hosley is back this year with a new attitude, a new position, new coaches, a new coordinator. And, most importantly, another opportunity. With Prince Amukamara (groin) and Chykie Brown (knee) sidelined by injuries, Hosley is starting opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and back at an outside corner spot. Most importantly, he has new confidence in himself after being stripped of it last season.
"Honestly, I understand how it goes," he said on Tuesday about being overlooked in 2014. "I wasn't productive playing the nickel spot and I understood that. You want to be on the field, you want to be out there, but you have to look at the Carfax, you know? What's really going on."
He said he wouldn't have been surprised if the Giants had not brought him back this season, but is happy they did. So, too, are they. But they still need to see more.
"He certainly came back in excellent condition," Tom Coughlin said. "I think he's very serious about it right now. He's trying and he senses that this is a critical camp for him. We're hoping he comes through in a fashion that we thought of him when we drafted him."
If Hosley can be productive and salvage his Giants career, the narrative would be similar to that of another recent Giants cornerback. Corey Webster had a slow start to his career, but a change in defensive coordinators (to current Giants play-caller Steve Spagnuolo, incidentally) and philosophy turned him into a solid starter on two Super Bowl-winning teams.
Hosley said he's heard that comparison before. Now he has to live up to it.
"I look at this as [turning over] a new leaf for me, understanding what I've been through and the ups and down of my career," he said. "It's a fight. It's a grind every day. I'm just trying to make the best of my opportunities."
And this is a pretty good one. Hosley was up against Bengals receiver A.J. Green several times in Tuesday's joint practice. He gave up some plays, but made some as well. It wasn't perfect. But he was on the field getting a chance. After last year, that's about all he can ask for.
"I'm ready to compete. It doesn't matter who we're going against," he said. "It's a big opportunity, man. Who wouldn't want to take advantage of this? At the end of this week, we'll see how it goes."