GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Giants paid Andrew Adams one of the best compliments they could. He didn’t even notice.
The undrafted rookie, who made his second NFL start at safety on Sunday night against the Packers, was so focused on starting for the first time last week that he had no clue that the Giants were holding a tryout for veteran free agents at his position.
It wasn’t exactly a list of no-names, either, with former Pro Bowler Donte Whitner headlining a group that included veterans Jeron Johnson, Will Allen and Shamiel Gary.
The workouts were held because the Giants — thanks to injuries to projected starters Darian Thompson (foot) and Nat Berhe (concussion) — were all the way down to the bottom of their depth chart with Adams, who started the season on the practice squad.
But then Adams played against the Vikings. And played well. And the Giants?
Well, they didn’t sign any of the vets, which might be the biggest show of confidence they could have shown Adams.
“That’s a good way to look at it,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “If I’m him, yeah.”
If only Adams knew.
When told about those workouts during the week, he shrugged. He said he doesn’t look over his shoulder in practice each day to see if Berhe has been cleared from the concussion protocol or if Thompson has come out of the protective boot he is wearing, both sure signs that his tenure as a starter is about to end.
“There’s no need,” he said. “When my number is called, I just put my head down and go. That’s it. When my opportunity presents itself, I’ll make the most of it and do what I have to do. It’s all up to me how I play.”
Against the Vikings, he played well enough to get another chance. He played 65 of 74 defensive snaps, made six tackles and had a pass defensed. More importantly, he was confident making the calls.
“I really like the way Andrew Adams has responded to being on the back end, having to communicate, work with Landon [Collins],” Spagnuolo said. “I think he’s done a solid job, but he’s got a ways to go.”
“The game is not too big for Andrew,” Giants coach Ben McAdoo said. “He’s a guy that it’s in his DNA. Sometimes you can see that when players walk through the door. He’s a very confident and well-prepared young player.”
The injury situation that made the Giants’ secondary seem so bleak last week seems to be improving. Both Eli Apple (hamstring) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (groin) missed last week’s game against the Vikings — DRC was active but did not play — and both were active for Sunday night’s game in Green Bay. That should help the defense come together even more and could open opportunities for players such as Adams.
“I just look to be a game-changer this week,” he said. “I got my feet on the ground, I got my first game in. Now it’s time to build.”
And keep the Giants from having to add anyone else.
Notes & quotes: It was the Packers’ secondary that was depleted by injuries Sunday night. The team announced earlier in the week that starting cornerback Sam Shields would miss the game with a concussion, but just before the game, they announced that their other starting corner, Damarious Randall, would miss the game because of a groin injury. That handicapped the 27th-ranked pass defense even further . . . RB Rashad Jennings (thumb) missed a third straight game for the Giants. Orleans Darkwa took over the starting job for a second straight week, backed up by Bobby Rainey and rookie Paul Perkins. “I think he’s a talented back,” McAdoo said of Darkwa. “I think he has good instincts on where the ball fits based on what the defense is doing. Sometimes it’s hard to teach that. He always runs with a nice forward lean.” . . . Will Tye started at tight end for the Giants with Larry Donnell (concussion) out. “He is one of those guys that we feel can match up well against linebackers as far as being able to create separation out of the break,” tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride said of Tye, who played college ball at Stony Brook. “He does a nice job in that area and he has a big body, so when he does play with good pad level, he moves defenders off the line of scrimmage.”