Michael Cox goes from next-to-last pick to making Giants' roster

Giants running back Michael Cox works on blocking

Giants running back Michael Cox works on blocking during team training camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. (Aug. 16, 2013) (Credit: James Escher)

Michael Cox was the next-to-last player selected in the 2013 NFL draft, which meant he had to wait through 252 other picks and didn't even get that cool "Mr. Irrelevant" jersey that went to the guy who was taken last.

Cox will get a strong consolation prize, though: a Giants jersey.

The rookie running back made the first draft of the 53-man roster, a list of players that surely will be changed and tweaked and sculpted some more before the Giants take off from Newark International Airport for Dallas on Saturday afternoon.

Cox would seem to be safe, though. Tom Coughlin said Cox made the team not because of thinness at running back -- Andre Brown is out four to six weeks and is a candidate for short-term injured reserve, and the team terminated the contract of Ryan Torain -- but his abilities on special teams.

"He has demonstrated outstanding ability as a kick returner," Coughlin said. "We put him at gunner and he was a good gunner. You send him down on kickoffs and he did a nice job with that. He has shown endurance and power and strength and the attitude anywhere you put him. We preach it all the time. You make the team because of your contributions on special teams. You have a great chance. That's what he did."

He wasn't the only one to earn a spot that way. The Giants also kept defensive end Justin Trattou as their fifth defensive end while parting ways with Adrian Tracy, Adewale Ojomo and Matt Broha at the position.

"Trattou has the ability to help us out in a lot of different ways both from scrimmage and special teams," Coughlin said. "There were four young men who were very much in contention for that job . . . Quite frankly, it was very, very close. We made a decision really based on an individual that was ranked a little bit higher on special teams."

While Trattou was an undrafted player who made the Giants in 2011 but was injured last year and Cox was barely drafted, the Giants parted ways with some of their larger investments.

Second-round draft pick Marvin Austin, a defensive tackle who never panned out because of injuries, was waived. Safety Tyler Sash, who suffered a concussion in Thursday's preseason finale and was a sixth-rounder in the same draft class as Austin, was waived with an injury settlement. And wide receiver Ramses Barden, a third-rounder in 2009, was put on injured reserve with a knee injury that effectively ends his Giants career.

Offensive lineman Eric Herman, a seventh-rounder, was the only member of this year's draft class to be released. The Giants also waived undrafted rookie cornerback Charles James, who had a strong training camp.

The Giants still have some issues to address on their roster. With the departure of Sash and the suspension of Will Hill for the first four games of the season, they have only three safeties. They are exceedingly inexperienced at running back. The three healthy players they currently have -- David Wilson, Da'rel Scott and Cox -- have totaled 82 career carries and 383 rushing yards in the NFL. So there probably are more goodbyes to come.

For now, though, the bulk of the cuts have been made.

"When you speak to these kids and you work with them and you see them, you do see their effort and what they put forth and how important it is to them," Coughlin said. "It's not an easy thing to stand there when a young man walks into his office and as soon as you put your hand out, he starts crying."

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