Sam Beal, the second-year cornerback who was selected by the Giants with a third-round supplemental pick last spring and then suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in his first practice with the team, was back on the field for the opening OTA practice on Monday. That in itself would have been reason for it to be a good day for him.
But it was extra special for Beal because he lined up with the starting defense and contributed by tipping a pass from Eli Manning into the hands of safety Jabril Peppers for an early interception.
It was almost worth the year-long wait.
“It felt good,” Beal said.
Hardly anyone knew what to expect from Beal. Because his injury occurred so quickly after his arrival last spring, most Giants players had no idea about his abilities. But Beal was around the team during the 2018 season, in meetings and in rehab sessions, and he said getting to learn from a distance actually helped him.
Now that he’s healthy, he’s anxious to put his knowledge into practice. He said he intends to hold on to that starting cornerback gig, and predicted that he and the three young cornerbacks the Giants drafted last month – DeAndre Baker, Julian Love and Corey Ballentine – can form a core for the future of the secondary.
“The new NYPD,” he said, using the New York Pass Defense nickname that surfaced for the group that led the 2016 Giants to the playoffs. “They are all competitive. All ready to work, everybody raising their hand ready to ask questions.”
As for the tipped pass that led to the interception, Beal said he should have picked it himself. He read Manning’s eyes, he said, and anticipated the throw. The best part about the play, he said, was that he went up and deflected the ball with his right arm. That’s the shoulder that had the surgery.
It still hasn’t taken a hit. That will come in the summer at training camp.
“I don’t think about it,” Beal said of his shoulder. “I can’t think about it.”
He did all his thinking last year. This year he gets to play.
Notes & Quotes: After what he called an “up and down” season in 2018, cornerback Janoris Jenkins vowed to return to his Pro Bowl form. “I will,” he said. “2019. Jackrabbit. I will. For sure.” … Pat Shurmur said left tackle Nate Solder, who underwent a “clean-up” procedure on bone spurs in his ankle last week, will be back for the start of training camp … Newly signed right tackle Mike Remmers is still not participating in practices after back surgery earlier this offseason. He said he expects to return soon … Shurmur said Ballentine, who was shot in the glute a day after he was drafted by the Giants, is with the team and recovering but did not provide a timeline for his on-field debut.