James O’Hagan still was catching his breath from having played 72 offensive snaps in the Giants' preseason finale on Thursday night, including the final one that led to a walk-off touchdown pass. It was a huge night for him and a thrilling win for the team.
So what now?
“I don’t know,” he said, pausing in the visiting locker room at Gillette Stadium to think about it for what seemed like the first time . . . and then chuckling. “I’ve never done this before. Just play the waiting game I guess.”
For O’Hagan and plenty of other players on the Giants and around the NFL, that’s the only game that matters now. The preseason is over, and so too are the months-long job interviews that guys like O’Hagan, the undrafted rookie center from Seaford, have been going through.
Babylon’s Jake Carlock made his final arguments to be on the team in this game as well. He even had a sack early in the fourth quarter to bolster his chances. It was negated by a defensive holding penalty in the secondary, so it doesn’t really count in the stats. But it certainly will in the team’s analysis.
Cutdowns from a 90-man roster to 53 are due by 4 p.m. on Saturday. Some teams make their decisions on Friday, but the Giants did not do that last year and are not expected to make any announcements until Saturday this year. Both O’Hagan and Carlock remain longshots to make the active roster, just as they were when they signed as undrafted free agents in early May, but they both have a chance at landing on the team’s practice squad. Thursday night, their performances may have swayed the Giants’ decisions on them.
Carlock, who played 22 defensive snaps and 16 on special teams, already had his shining moment in the first preseason game, though, when he had a sack and a pick-six interception. He was credited with one tackle against the Patriots.
O’Hagan’s resume was lacking . . . until Thursday night. His 72 snaps — 80 if you count ones negated by penalties — may have been more than he’d taken in the previous two weeks in practices and games. He didn’t even see the field in the third preseason game. So he needed a game like this one to wrap things up for the summer.
“Especially after tonight, I can go to bed knowing I did my best and whatever happens happens,” he said of the looming cutdowns. “I feel like I’ve had opportunities and everything like that, but I felt like this game was a big opportunity for me to play a ton of snaps and play with some really good guys around me. It was a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun.”
So we ask again: What now?
“I’m gonna go to bed and [Friday] night go to bed pretty early too because I’m exhausted,” he said. “And then whatever happens on Saturday or happens on Friday, it is what it is. I feel like I put my best foot forward and had the opportunity of a lifetime. It’s been exciting to be here and hopefully I’ll continue to stay.”