Walter Thurmond III sat in front of his locker stuffing his belongings into a black plastic bag. It's normally a strange day when the players clean out their lockers, but for Thurmond it was especially odd. The cornerback was brought in to help bolster the secondary, bring attitude and an ability to cover slot receivers. But he tore his pectoral in Week 2 and was one of the first of the key defensive players to land on injured reserve.
"I only played a game and a half really in the regular season," Thurmond said. "That was pretty weak to say the least. I really want to be out there being competitive. It's tough watching from the sideline and having them go through the different things that they went through, other guys getting injured."
Thurmond, who signed a one-year deal with the Giants last offseason, said he wants to return. If he does, and other cornerbacks return healthy after a season that crippled what was thought to be a strength of the defense, the Giants feel they should be able to reach the potential they fell short of in 2014.
"I want to be here," Thurmond said. "There's a lot of potential with the team. Great coaching staff, great group of guys, great organization. We just had some bad luck this year."
Thurmond went on injured reserve. So did Prince Amukamara. And Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was hurt and playing at less-than-full capacity for most of the season.
"We just need to have the time to jell," Thurmond said. "There were some guys who were vital parts who wound up getting injured so we were never really at full strength. We always knew the potential that we had as a defense. Unfortunately we never had the chance to be able to show that. Hopefully this is a situation where guys who got injured can come back stronger, come back and pick up where we left off."
Thurmond said he believes he can do that. He's just begun bench pressing and doesn't think his injury will linger into the 2015 season. Amukamara, too, said he expects to be ready for the offseason program in April. He had a torn biceps that required surgery and is a few weeks away from returning to strength exercises like curls and pushups.
Amukamara said he missed out on his big goal for 2014, which was making the Pro Bowl. He was particularly excited about that opportunity since the game will be played in his hometown of Glendale, Ariz., the week before the Super Bowl.
"I felt like I was ascending pretty good," he said. "It's just a bummer."
Amukamara said he was glad he was able to be the team's top cornerback for a few weeks.
"Whether that was because of DRC being injured a little or due to my play," he said, "I felt that was one of the goals that I wanted to accomplish."
Now all that's left is to get ready for next year. If the Giants can reassemble their cornerbacks and make a run with them the way 2014 was projected to play out, they should be in good shape.
"I know everyone is licking their chops to see [Victor] Cruz, [Rueben] Randle and Odell [Beckham Jr.] together," Amukamara said of the offensive triumvirate that most focus on when they think optimistically about 2015. "On the defensive side I think it's going to be great to have another year with DRC and the same defensive backfield."