Some players might want to duck it. They might convince themselves that it’s just another game, that it’s no big deal. Rookie safety Andrew Adams isn’t like that.
“This is the most important game of my football career since I started playing football,” he said. “There’s no hiding from it.”
For many Giants, whether they acknowledge it or not, they are in a similar situation. They made it through the first round of cuts earlier in the week and on Thursday night against the Patriots in the preseason finale they’ll have one last chance to audition for the 53-man roster.
“It’s the best way to evaluate players,” Ben McAdoo said of the preseason games, and this fourth one in particular when the starters won’t play very much, if at all, and the backups will be on the field for most of the time. “We’re obviously going to take a nice long look at some guys at the bottom part of the roster and give them an opportunity. So, it counts.”
Adams is a player who has flashed enough in the past week to catch the eyes of the coaches. He had an interception on Saturday against the Jets, and in Tuesday’s practice he had another pick.
“He has a nose for the football, and he’s a smart, conscientious guy,” McAdoo said of Adams. “He works at the game and he gets football. And he’s a fun guy to be around.”
Does that last part matter? McAdoo said yes.
“It rubs off on his teammates,” the head coach said. “When guys enjoy football and they bring energy to the game, it raises the energy of the teammates around him.”
Adams isn’t the only one coming down the stretch trying to make the team. Cornerback Donte Deayon, another undrafted rookie, has been making plays all summer and the coaches like his intensity and his personality.
“Double D? I love that guy,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “He walks in the room and brightens up the whole room… The guys love him too and love being around him.”
Deayon, like Adams, isn’t shying away from the significance of Thursday’s game.
“I know it’s going to be one of the biggest games of my life, but I’m going to enjoy it,” Deayon said. “I don’t want to be too locked in. I want to have fun out there, cut it loose, and let the chips fall where they fall.”
“When I’m on the field it’s not like I’m thinking this is do-or-die,” he said. “I’m just out there playing. When they give me an opportunity, I want to take advantage of it.”
There will, of course, be plenty of time for stressing. That will come on Friday and Saturday when the team begins to whittle the roster down. For many, Thursday isn’t only the biggest game of their lives, but it also will be the last.
Wide receiver Tavarres King scored two touchdowns on Saturday against the Jets and hopes that, plus his performance throughout training camp, is enough to keep him on the team. Unlike Adams and Deayon, two rookies, King has been in the league since 2013 and he does not have any practice squad eligibility remaining. For him, it’s the 53 or bust.
“I’ve made a pretty good case, but you know my job is not to make the decision, it’s to force them to make a tough decision,” King said. “I think that is something that they are going to have to do, but I feel pretty confident in the way I played and what I am doing and how I am doing it. I feel pretty optimistic about it.”
Deayon said he’ll probably spend Saturday, the day of final cuts, in his hotel room “just chilling” and “relaxing” and “hoping for the best.” Adams said his family will be up for the game from the Atlanta area and they’ll probably stay in New Jersey with him on Saturday.
And of course, both players will have their phones nearby. Teams typically call or text players who have been cut throughout the day.
“It’s probably going to be more nerve-wracking than the draft,” Adams said.
With one big difference, though. During that process, back in April, Adams was waiting for that buzz from his device.
“This is one,” he said, “when I don’t want a phone call.”