Mario Edwards Jr. was at home, asleep, confident enough in his place on the Raiders’ roster to try to enjoy a Saturday sleeping in. It was the phone call telling him to report to the facility to be cut that awoke him.
Less than 48 hours later, Edwards was on the field with the Giants, a recent waiver claim by the team and one of six fresh faces trying to figure out everything from where the bathroom is in the Giants’ locker room to how they’re going to be used on the field, possibly as soon as Sunday against the Jaguars.
Two of them, Edwards and center Spencer Pulley, took cross-country flights to get to Monday’s practice in time. Edwards flew from San Francisco and landed in the wee hours of Monday morning. Pulley, waived by the Chargers, was on a slightly earlier flight and arrived at about 1:30 a.m. Just enough time to check into his hotel room, take a quick nap, and report for practice.
There was only one person in the building that Pulley said he knew: Head coach Pat Shurmur, and he’d met him once. And that was only because Pulley was the center at Vanderbilt where Shurmur’s son, Kyle, is still a quarterback. In the whirlwind to get to New Jersey and get to work, Pulley said he didn’t even have a chance to text his former teammate to get the lowdown on his old man.
“I guess I need to at some point,” Pulley told Newsday with a grin.
More important is the players getting used to their new team with the first game just six days away. The whirlwind of their lives being changed is nothing compared with the one that awaits them in the coming days as they digest new plays, new terminology, new everything.
“It’s tough, but that’s part of the job,” cornerback Mike Jordan, waived by the Browns and claimed by the Giants, told Newsday on his first day at the new office. “You do whatever it takes to get up to game speed… You just have to strap up and play.”
Jordan is one of three new cornerbacks claimed by the Giants along with Kamrin Moore and Antonio Hamilton. The new guys at that position (three) nearly outnumber the guys who have been with the Giants through the preseason (four).
“You just understand it’s the nature of the business,” veteran safety Michael Thomas told Newsday of having so many new teammates. “You just embrace them. While it might seem out of the ordinary to most fans and viewers, for us it’s just part of it. Next man up.”
Thomas said he relates to the newcomers because he was once in their shoes. He was on the 49ers’ practice squad for almost two years when he was signed by the Dolphins on Dec. 10, 2013, and had to make that cross-country move.
“Shoot, nobody knew my name,” Thomas said. “I just had to go in there and make a play. I was claimed on a Tuesday and practicing on a Wednesday and playing on a Sunday.”
And how did it go? Thomas may be the ultimate example of how a player can make a swift impact in such circumstances. In a 24-20 win over the Patriots he had three tackles, broke up a would-be touchdown pass from Tom Brady in the end zone in the fourth quarter, then sealed the victory with an interception.
“I made a great first impression,” he said with a coy smile.
Whether or not his new teammates can do something similar will be shown soon enough. The Giants return to practice on Wednesday. Tuesday is an off day. At least for those who aren’t racing the clock to get caught up.
“Not for me,” Jordan said.