Undrafted free agents already have to wait a particularly long time before their number is called in a preseason game. Add in a weather delay that lasted nearly an hour, and it’d be tough to blame Jake Carlock for getting anxious to play.
The fact that it was his first game at MetLife Stadium, playing for his childhood favorite team, with two busloads of family and friends watching in the rain-soaked stands? Well, that just made the wait a little bit more complicated.
“It kind of calmed me down, and then at the same time I was like, ‘All right, now I’m a little too calm right now. I’ve got to go play a game,’ ” Carlock said.
Once he did get in the game, it didn’t take long for the Babylon native and LIU Post product to come up huge — and make an early statement for a roster spot.
Carlock tipped Davis Webb’s pass at the line of scrimmage, hauled it in for the interception and sprinted 59 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown with 4:15 left in the third quarter of the Giants’ 31-22 win over the Jets on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium. He capped his debut with a sack of Luke Falk with 4:49 left.
“Honestly, I just couldn’t really get around the tackle at first,” Carlock said. “Then when I saw Webb, he was looking around, and I just put my hands up when I saw the ball. I got my hand on it, I tracked it into my hands, and then I thought someone was behind me so I took off as fast as I could down the sideline.”
It was a huge showing for a player who already faces an uphill climb for a roster spot. He’s transitioning to edge-rushing linebacker — which, in the Giants’ defense, is almost like a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end —after playing more of a rover position at LIU Post, and the step up in competition from Division II to the NFL is massive. Still, he’s had his flashes in camp thus far, batting down a few passes and catching the eye of the coaching staff.
“That was awesome, wasn’t it?’’ Pat Shurmur said of the interception. “He’s a team favorite because he’s so tough. When we had all those injuries, those little nagging injuries at the first part of training camp, he took a ton of reps. More than the law allows. He’s tough, tough, tough as nails. The sideline exploded when he scored. It was really a great feeling. He’s a fan favorite on our team after the game.”
Carlock first entered the game just before the two-minute warning in the first half, right after Paul Perkins lost a fumble in Giants territory. He helped the Giants limit the Jets to a field goal on that drive.
He did a little bit of everything after that. He rushed the passer, dropped back into coverage and played with both the return and the coverage units on special teams. It’s those kinds of plays, the little ones that won’t always show up in the stat sheet, that eventually may determine his fate with the Giants. But none of those plays had the emotional rush of that interception.
“I heard [my family] chanting my name throughout the game, and I kind of caught eyes with them after the pick-6, and I was pointing at them,” Carlock said. “So I was just smiling and was as happy as could be.”
“He is a ball of energy,” linebackers coach Mike Dawson said last week. “He’s a million miles an hour when he practices, you see him flying all over the place, he’s batting down passes. He looked like a DB the other day, batted down a couple passes. He’s doing some different things like that.
“He’s a guy that you want to see success from because he works so hard at it,” Dawson said. “He’s obviously giving up some size, but he’s a ball of muscle . . . He’s a rocked-up guy, plays physical, flies around and throws his body in there, and that makes up for some of that size.”
Carlock was one of three Long Islanders to make their preseason debut on Thursday night. Seaford’s James O’Hagan made his debut at center for the Giants in the final minutes of the third quarter, helping to block for Kyle Lauletta as the second-year engineered a fourth-quarter touchdown drive. Justin Alexandre of Elmont and Sewanhaka High School came in at defensive line for the Jets early in the fourth but did not record a stat.
With Casey Musarra