Dan DePalma won’t be playing in Super Bowl XLVI, but he may wind up being one of the Giants’ most important players as they prepare to face the Patriots in Indianapolis next Sunday.
DePalma is a wide receiver on the Giants’ practice squad, and his assignment this week will go a long way toward determining how well the team’s defense deals with Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker on game day. DePalma is imitating Welker’s every move on the Giants’ scout team in practice.
“The coaches gave me a cut-up (tape) of his routes, so I study that at night and try to come out the next day and play like him and give the guys the best look as I can,” said DePalma, a Verona, N.J. native who grew up a Giants’ fan. “Welker is a great receiver, and his play speaks for itself.”
How’s DePalma doing so far? Perhaps a little too well, as far as the Giants are concerned.
“The coaches tell me I’m doing a good job,” he said. “I’m running the routes right and I’ve been catching passes. Hopefully the next couple of days they shut me down a little more.”
DePalma, who was in Jets’ training camp this year before being released, is also playing defense for the Giants’ scout team, and he’s imitating another smallish Patriots’ receiver who doubles as a defensive back: Julian Edelman. DePalma has spent a lot of time covering slot receiver Victor Cruz in practice.
“Trying to lock down Victor Cruz isn’t an easy job,” he said. He’s a hell of a receiver, just the way he moves. A lot of defensive backs can’t keep up with him.”
DePalma is enjoying practice just a bit more than usual, given his important roles. And he thinks he’s improving as a receiver because of his assignment.
“I’m a young receiver myself, so even watching Welker is making me better, learning the way he’s running his routes, his head fakes, things like that,” he said. “His speed and quickness is just amazing. I try to study as much as I can of him, the way he moves, shakes his head, gets in and out of breaks.”