Dane Belton was more excited about the ball than concerned about the break.
When the Giants rookie safety jumped high in the air to make an interception in one of the earliest practices of training camp but came down hard on his shoulder and fractured his clavicle back in late July, he was so amped up by the play that he didn’t want to come off the field.
“I definitely felt it when I landed, but whenever you can make a play like that you take it,” he said. “At the end of the day you are playing football. Things like that happen.”
So he finished that practice.
“I was getting good reps and I felt like it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” he said. “I could barely raise my arm up but I’m a football player and my mentality was to go out and finish the day.”
It wasn’t until after the workout that he had it x-rayed and learned of the damage. The good news was that he would not need surgery. The bad news was that it would take 6-8 weeks for the bone to heal. That injury happened exactly six weeks before the regular-season opener.
The fourth-round pick barely missed that deadline. He had a CT scan last week that cleared him for contact before the Titans game but the Giants decided to be cautious and hold him for just a little while longer. Belton should be on the field to make his NFL debut Sunday against the Panthers.
“I think he’s physical, I think he’s fast, I think he knows the system,” defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. “We just have to knock the rust off of him. We’ll see how he feels when he’s out there, and we’ll just slowly build with him.”
Belton said he has full confidence in the strength of his healed-up collarbone. He’ll wear a small protective shield over the area where the fracture was but other than that he said he does not expect to have any limitations.
“I went out and played the way I like,” he said of his reps in practice this week. “Being able to fit guys up in the run game and special teams, there were no hiccups. I feel like I’m fully back.”
He returns at a time when the Giants may need him more than they did a week ago. Last Sunday facing Derrick Henry they were mostly using their bigger personnel to stop the run. This week against Baker Mayfield and Christian McCaffrey, they will likely have more defensive backs on the field to counter Carolina’s speed.
“I’m going to do whatever the coach needs me to do,” Belton said.