Louis Nix is on a new team. He's playing a new position in a new system. So right now, his goals are a little ambiguous.
"I'm just trying to work my way into doing something," the Giants defensive tackle told Newsday on Thursday. "I don't know what 'something' is, but I want to be somebody on this team. I'm trying to find a role."
He might have that chance Sunday.
If Markus Kuhn can't play because of a sprained knee that has kept him from practices all week, Nix could be tapped to appear in his first NFL regular-season game. For a pretty highly touted third-round pick in last year's draft, that's a long wait to get on the field. Nix doesn't want to blow it.
"All those first games you ever had in high school and college, you always have butterflies," Nix said. "I'll probably have butterflies if I get the chance to play this weekend. And I'll just be happy and smile that I get to be on the field. You don't like to be down with injuries. I'm just blessed that I'm healthy now and the Giants gave me this opportunity, basically a second chance, a new beginning, to do something with myself. I'm not taking it for granted at all."
Nix was selected by the Texans in the third round of last year's draft, nine picks after the Giants selected Jay Bromley. But he injured his knee and was put on injured reserve after three games of being inactive. He was with Houston this summer, but they waived him, in part because they acquired Vince Wilfork in the offseason.
Nix was picked up by the Giants off waivers, then waived by the Giants the next day, cleared waivers, and re-signed with the Giants the following day. That was all last week. It was a sleight-of-hand roster move by the Giants to tear up Nix's rookie contract and sign him to a fresh free-agent deal.
But it also robbed Nix of some time on the field. He practiced just once last week and twice so far this week. Three practices. And now he might be in a game.
"I haven't been in a 4-3 in a long time, but I think I'm catching up," Nix said, recalling his high school days as the last time he was in the scheme the Giants play. "I just rely on the guys like Hank [Johnathan Hankins] and Jay and [Cullen] Jenkins, they help out a lot. I just do my best to try to catch on.
"I'm used to trying to two-gap most of the time," he said of the common 3-4 responsibility and lining up head-on with offensive linemen. "But I'm loving it, enjoying it. Just trying to take advantage of my opportunity."
"He hasn't been here as long," defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said of Nix, "but playing D-tackle isn't quite as complicated as playing linebacker."
So the Giants may just throw him and his 6-2, 342-pound body in there and see what happens. Nix smiled widely at the prospect. He's been waiting his whole life for it.
"This could be it," he said. "We will see. Hopefully, it is and I'm in there."
And maybe he can do . . . something.