Ryan Nassib looking forward to his NFL debut Saturday night
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Ryan Nassib remembers his first college game. He was a redshirt freshman at Syracuse who ran into the huddle, called the play and then . . . split. His first job was a decoy in a Wildcat package, and he lined up behind the center only briefly before shifting out to receiver as the running back took a direct snap.
"My first game, I just blocked guys," he recalled. "But my first game was pretty exciting."
There seems little chance that Nassib will be asked to do much blocking in his NFL debut, but the excitement will be there. That likely will come Saturday night when the Giants open the preseason against the Steelers.
Tom Coughlin was noncommittal about who his third- string quarterback will be -- Eli Manning and David Carr will take the first- and second-team reps -- but he did say he'd like Nassib and former Colts backup Curtis Painter to play as well.
"You have a little bit more on your shoulders," Nassib told Newsday, comparing his Orange debut to his pending one with Big Blue. "It's not just blocking. You have to make the call and make the read. But we've had a great training camp so far and I feel like going into the game, I'll be pretty confident, pretty ready."
Chances are he isn't. Not yet, anyway. After workouts in the spring and two weeks of training camp, Nassib will be thrown into an actual game situation. Carr, who is in his 12th season, remembered his first preseason game as a rookie.
"I called a couple of college plays in the huddle," Carr said. "Guys were like, 'What's that?' I was like, 'That's just what I know.' He'll kind of revert back to what he's used to doing, what he's had success doing, and hopefully he can calm his mind down enough to just kind of treat it as a practice and he'll be fine."
Carr was the first overall pick in the draft that year and starting at quarterback for an expansion franchise, so it was a little different from what Nassib faces. But the chaos of tasting the NFL for the first time probably will be similar.
"The game was really fast, and what I thought I knew, I had no idea," Carr said. "You try and recall things, try to recall plays that you've just learned over the last couple of months, regurgitate things that you've learned in the meeting room. Maybe you wrote it down 400 times, you've written it on the board, you're able to show the coach you know it. But then when you get on the field, you realize that it's not ingrained yet. I think that's the biggest thing that's going to happen with all young guys is realizing that you don't really have it yet. But you're on your way."
Nassib has looked like a rookie quarterback in his first training camp. He's had some moments when he's been able to do good things sandwiched between moments when he looks lost. As his rookie season and career go on, the balance between the two will shift.
"Young guy with a lot of ability that's trying to fight his way through all of the learning" is how Coughlin described the fourth-round pick.
The learning will get a lot steeper beginning Saturday night, assuming he takes a few snaps.
"It's a dream come true being able to play in an NFL game, regardless of whether it's preseason or regular season," Nassib said. "I'm excited, ready to get out there and play somebody else. It's going to be a fun weekend."
And most likely a memorable one.