Dalvin Tomlinson said he has already started thinking about what it will be like to not only play in the opening night game against the Cowboys but start at defensive tackle.
“It’ll be amazing,” he said. “It’s one of the things you always look forward to, playing in a big game like that, especially in a season opener.”
If Tomlinson does start in place of the injured Jay Bromley, he won’t be alone. He’ll be playing next to All-Pro defensive tackle Damon Harrison, just as he has throughout the preseason.
“It’s been pretty cool so far,” he said of being Snacks’ wingman up front. “He’s always critiquing me and making sure I do stuff right. He’s pretty much teaching me while I play beside him on the field. There are small things that I probably haven’t seen before that he’s helping me on.”
During games or just in practices?
“Pretty much both,” Tomlinson smiled.
There isn’t a lot that Tomlinson hasn’t seen, especially since he came to the Giants from Alabama, which is about as close to an NFL team as college football has.
“It prepared me a lot simply because Coach [Nick] Saban has pretty much like a college NFL team, like a mini-NFL program,” Tomlinson said. “I feel like going there for five years helped me a lot.”
It also gives him a lot of prestige in a locker room filled with veterans who are not easily impressed.
“We don’t have anything of his body of work besides college, so it’s hard to say ‘He’s done this here’ when he hasn’t,” Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. “From what I’ve seen so far, he’s very strong, he’s very physical, and we’re going to need that play from him.”
Tomlinson said despite all that preparation and grooming, he’ll still be a little queasy about playing against the Cowboys.
“I’m going to be pretty nervous,” he admitted. “I’m going to have a lot of butterflies. I have butterflies before every game, but that just means you care. So I’m going to be pretty nervous about it.”
At some point those nerves will give way, though, and Tomlinson will settle in as the Giants’ starting defensive tackle. Maybe even for years to come.