It was out of necessity that Bennett Jackson was moved to safety. The Giants were see-through thin at the position in the spring and Jackson, drafted last year as a cornerback, seemed to have the body type and intelligence to make the position switch.
The Giants just needed people, really. Jackson qualified.
Now they practically giggle at not having considered the transition before.
Safeties coach Dave Merritt said Monday that Jackson has been a much better fit as a safety than he was as a corner. In fact, he has a good chance to wind up as one of the team's starters in a wide-open competition for two spots on the field. He was with the first unit Sunday and again Monday, getting his chance in a rotation to steer the defense.
"It was out of necessity first moving Bennett," Merritt said, "but the fact that he's able to pick up the defense and able to regurgitate it back to us, it's been a plus for us . . . He's making production, and production, as [defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] has said, production is at the ball. This kid has been able to get his hands on a couple of balls already here, by far more than any other safety I have in camp."
Not bad for a sixth-round pick who didn't even make the team out of last year's camp, spent a few weeks on the practice squad, then had microfracture knee surgery early in the fall.
"Shoot, I remember the day I got that text to be cut," Jackson said. "It's definitely humbling. But I got another opportunity to go on the practice squad and I got another opportunity this year. You have to make the best of all of your opportunities and I'm trying to make the most of this one."
There seem to be no bigger opportunities than at safety for the Giants this year. Merritt said it is wide open and that no one, not even second-round pick Landon Collins, has secured a job.
"Right now, there is no clarity," Merritt said. "I'm still looking for the chemistry and hopefully that will iron itself out over the next few weeks."
Jackson and Collins may be the best on-paper duo for the Giants. Collins is a big, heavy hitter who can play in the box. Jackson, with his coverage background, can make plays on the ball. But there are other options, including Cooper Taylor, who was with the first team at the start of camp, and rookie Mykelle Thompson, who got his chance with the starters Monday. Nat Berhe is trying to catch up with the system after missing spring workouts with an injury, and Merritt said he is progressing at "a snail's pace."
Jackson said he is fully recovered from his knee surgery. "I thought about that during OTAs, I tested it plenty then," he said of his knee. "When you don't feel something for a while, you don't think about it, and I really don't think about it anymore."
He's shown no signs of trepidation or tentativeness on the field, either.
"It's simple: See ball, get ball," Merritt said. "This kid's ability to put his toe in the ground and go and burst out of his break, you guys see it out here. He's able to make plays . . . Bennett Jackson is one of those guys who is a self-starter and he's able to go out and perform and do the things we're asking him to do. On top of that, he'll relentlessly run to the ball, which is a plus.
"I see him being a productive member of the secondary."
A starter? Well, Merritt wasn't ready to bestow that title.
"There are no starters right now, but we're giving him an opportunity," he said. "I told him once you get in there and you are able to step into a first-team role, don't give it back. Don't sit there and have me turn around and throw another guy in there. If you are a starter with the first group, hold your position."
Even if it's a position that you never imagined yourself playing.