Terrell Thomas' long journey back to football continues Saturday night

Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas practices during team training Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas practices during team training camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. (Aug. 13, 2013) Photo Credit: James Escher

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Terrell Thomas has missed playing football these last two years, but he's also missed the rituals involved with playing. In the next few days, he'll get to enjoy those once again.

"I'm just excited to pack my bag, to be honest with you," Thomas said of preparing for the short trip across the parking lot to MetLife Stadium where he and the Giants will play the Jets Saturday night. "I haven't done that in a long time, to pick out what cleats I'm going to put in there and see my jersey back on the shoulder pads before the game. It's a long time coming."

Two years, in fact. Two ACL reconstructions. Two full rehabilitations. One year of frustration spent watching the team win a Super Bowl without him. Another year of frustration from watching the team fail to make the playoffs without him. All of that is about to become past tense.

"There are a lot of people who've been rooting for me, it's a big day for me and my family that have supported me throughout the process, the Giants, and for myself," he said. "I think it speaks volumes for a man of faith to overcome anything and I'm just excited to get out there."

The Giants are excited about it, too.

"I'm happy for me that he's back on the field," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "He's a big part of what we plan to have a lot of success in . . . Hopefully he's able to come back and get back to the form that he was at two years ago, that type of guy that was on the verge of a Pro Bowl and the verge of being one of the star corners of this league."

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Thomas' goals aren't that lofty. In a crowded secondary, he's focusing on earning a job, not an invitation to Hawaii.

"I just want to play football," Thomas said. "Whatever comes next I am ready for . . . I have to go out there and prove myself, that I can play against top competition and I think the Jets ought to give me a great opportunity to do that."

The next key for Thomas will be getting through the game healthy enough to practice on Monday. That may be a bigger obstacle than actually playing tomorrow night.

"He's got to come back and practice each day," Tom Coughlin said. "Come back and play in the game, play well, build his own confidence and come out of the game feeling good about where he is and I'm sure if that's the case, we're all going to feel that way. I have liked what I've seen."

Coughlin wouldn't say how much Thomas will play Saturday night. Thomas said he's ready for any workload.

"If they tell me to play 20 plays, 30 plays, I feel I can do it," he said.

Thomas admitted that Saturday night will be an emotional one for him.

"It's been a long journey," he said. "A long, hard one. I went through a lot, endured a lot. I think this is a true testament to my faith, to my family, to my fans and just to football, what you sacrifice for this game. I think it's definitely going to be emotional."

But at some point he'll have to push all of that aside and play football. He said that won't be a problem.

"It's just like a big game," he said with a shrug. "I'm not scared of big games. I've done it before."

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Just not recently.But at some point he'll have to push all of that aside and play football. He said that won't be a problem.

"It's just like a big game," he said with a shrug. "I'm not scared of big games. I've done it before."

Just not recently.

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