The football locker room is normally a sanctuary from worldly worries. It’s where players go to escape reality and find comfort in their bubble of focus.
But not this weekend.
“I just don’t even like being in the locker room around this time because seeing the faces on guys, it kind of does something to you inside and it hurts you,” veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said on Friday.
That’s because it’s time for the cuts. The Giants must trim their roster from 75 players to 53 by 4 p.m. on Saturday, which means almost a third of the team will be called into the building one last time to turn in their playbooks and have their dreams crushed.
This year, for the first time in his life, Ben McAdoo plays the part of executioner and not juror in the process. As head coach the final decision falls to him and general manager Jerry Reese.
“Anytime you lose a player that you’ve been working with closely, it’s tough,” he said. “As position coach, it was tough. As a coordinator, it was tough. As a head coach, it was tough. It’s not why you get into this business, but it’s probably the toughest part of it.“
McAdoo did not provide much insight into his thinking before the team makes its decisions, but he said he thinks the three toughest positions to whittle down will be wide receiver, running back and tight end. At receiver, the decisions will likely come down to which young players to waive and hope they clear the process to be re-signed to the practice squad.
The other two, though, are filled with veterans, some of whom have been contributors to the Giants for a number of years. With no practice squad options, those players will be slashed not stashed. Players such as Mark Herzlich, Andre Williams, Orleans Darkwa and even Jasper Brinkley could have worn a Giants uniform for the final time on Thursday night.
Of course, they recognize this as part of the business.
“We understand the obvious of the game,” running back Rashad Jennings said.
That doesn’t make it easy, though. Rodgers-Cromartie said he’s already been approached by some younger players seeking advice on dealing with the process.
“You have guys that come in in the spring, young guys, veteran guys that transfer over to the team, and you make friends and make bonds,” he said. “And then it is sad to see a friend, a brother, leave like that. It is definitely hard.”
“To ever have to say goodbye is always tough,” Jennings said. “But that’s why we never take it for granted. This is not an obligation, this is not a duty, this is a privilege to play. That’s why we work so hard, and give it all we have.”
For many, though, that just wasn’t enough.
Notes & quotes: McAdoo was vague on how he plans to use newly re-signed offensive lineman Will Beatty. “We’re going to get him in the mix, get him in a variety of positions, get his legs underneath him, get him into football shape, and get him back practicing,” he said. Asked if Beatty could be ready for the Sept. 11 opener McAdoo said: “Never say never.” . . . Rookie S Darian Thompson (shoulder) may be ready to play in the opener. “Darian is making some progress,” McAdoo said. “We may see him back in a limited role [in practice] next week.” . . . McAdoo said he does not feel the team needs a traditional fullback on the roster and can find that kind of production from other positions such as running back or tight end. Veteran Will Johnson, who has missed two weeks with a burner, is the likeliest candidate to take on that responsibility.