Donte Deayon’s professional dream came true. He was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster. It’s something he’s been working toward all his life, and has been working for with the Giants since last preseason.
But when he came to work on Thursday, his first day as a full-fledged member of the team, the person he would have most liked to share the experience with wasn’t there. In fact, Deayon took his place.
The Giants placed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a mentor and big brother figure to Deayon since last summer, on the reserve/suspended list and promoted Deayon. DRC’s suspension is indefinite, which means that so might be Deayon’s stay on the roster.
“It’s like a bittersweet feeling,” Deayon said on Thursday, “but hopefully in the future we’re both going to be playing together.”
Deayon said he spoke with Rodgers-Cromartie after learning of his new status.
“He’s my brother,” Deayon said. “He’s happy for me. He’s excited.”
Did he offer any advice?
“Just go out there and do me. Play ball.”
Deayon said Rodgers-Cromartie, who left the team on Wednesday, is doing well. He said the veteran is “getting his mind right.” Playing without him around will be tough not only for Deayon but for the entire team.
“That’s a big part of our defense,” Deayon said. “He’s a leader, he’s a mentor. He’s a role model for guys like me. Now we have to step up and hold it down for him.”
Deayon got the call about his promotion from the Giants on Wednesday night. It was far different from the call he got from the team on cutdown day in early September. Back then he was told that he had made the 53-man roster, but an 11th-hour trade with the Steelers for veteran cornerback Ross Cockrell changed that. Deayon was relegated to the practice squad.
“You just be strong-minded,” he said when asked how he fought through that setback. “You have good teammates and good coaches who keep your mind in it, keep your head in it, and just kind of work every day as a professional. When you get your opportunity like other guys you’ve seen before who got their call-ups, you just make sure you’re ready to go.”
Deayon was on the practice squad last year until he was injured. This year, he said, he knew he’d get his chance.
“I didn’t know when,” he said. “I just felt like at some point this season it would happen.”
Now that it has, he feels ready.
“I’m excited,” he said. “It’s a blessing. I’m ready to rock and roll . . . I’m gonna prepare well and study and then on Sunday I’m cutting it loose.”
Just like Rodgers-Cromartie would have told him to do were he with him.
“It’s definitely a weird situation,” Deayon said. “But you just make the most out of your opportunities and go from there.”