Most players dream of the day they get to walk onto an NFL field. Mykkele Thompson has spent the last year dreaming about walking off of one.
He never got the chance to do that as a rookie. He ruptured his Achilles in his first preseason game in Cincinnati last August and missed the entire season recovering from the injury. That’s why he’s not only excited about getting to Friday’s preseason opener against the Dolphins, but getting through it.
“That’s probably the thing I’m looking forward to the most,” the safety told Newsday on Tuesday. “Last year not even making it to halftime, that’s one of the things I really want to accomplish.”
It’s not the only thing, of course. He wants to make the team and contribute. The injury sidelined Thompson during a season when the safety position was wide open, when he had a legitimate shot of competing for a starting job in camp as a rookie. This year he’s been playing down the depth chart a bit, trying to get his bearings back while Landon Collins and a new rookie named Thompson — Darian Thompson — seem to be locked into the starting jobs.
After a year without football, Mykkele Thompson doesn’t care about starting as much as he wants to get back to playing.
“It’s just a blessing,” he said. “This game is not guaranteed, so I’m just thankful to be able to go out there one more time and be able to play with these guys.”
He’s been doing that throughout camp, where his reps have not been dialed back at any point due to lingering concerns over his injury. He said during OTAs in the spring he began to feel like he was back to the level where he was when he was hurt last year, and from there he’s continued to build and develop.
Thompson sat in the stands at MetLife Stadium for every game last year, too fragile to be on the sideline where a collision could have caused further damage to his Achilles. On Friday, playing in front of the same crowd he was a part of last season will be special for him, too.
Once he gets on the field for that game he said he doesn’t think he’ll still be thinking about the injury.
“It’s not going to be in my mind,” he said. “It’s only in my mind right now with me going through the process one more time, but once it gets closer to the game I’m not going to be worrying about it. Injuries are a part of the game and if it happens, it happens. I’m just going to go out and do my best.”
And hope that this time he can do it for at least an entire game.