In an NFL training camp, one man’s loss is another’s opportunity. And so it has been for the last few days for Adrian Tracy, the Giants’ sixth round pick in 2010 who has yet to play in a regular season game but has looked good in the few early practices this season. With Justin Trattou injuring his ankle, Tracy has picked up some extra snaps and has emerged in the battle for the last defensive end spot on the depth chart (named here as the Dave Tollefson Memorial Roster Spot).
“I hope everything is going well with him and his situation,” Tracy said of Trattou. “But with the situation right now I’m just trying to make the most of my opportunity whether he’s here or not.”
So far he’s looked good and comfortable at defensive end. When he was drafted the Giants tried to convert him to an outside linebacker. But midway through last year’s training camp they moved him back to his natural spot. He spent the year on the practice squad working both of those positions and now he’s back for his third training camp and first full one as a defensive end.
“Things come natural,” he said. “That was the primary position I played all through high school and college. I kind of returned to my roots a little bit … It’s fun now. I don’t feel like I have all of that stress on me. I understand what’s going on across the board, where I fit in and where I’m supposed to be. It makes my play faster and easier because I know exactly how it’s supposed to be.”
Tom Coughlin said the Giants moved Tracy back to the line to allow him to rush the passer. That quickness that the Giants saw enough of to consider him as a linebacker translates well as a defensive end. Tracy flashed a few times in practices so far, once flushing David Carr from the pocket and picking up a few other pressures and would-be sacks.
As for replacing Tollefson, Tracy said that’s not exactly the case.
“Dave was a great attribute to this team last year playing that backup role and also being outstanding on special teams,” he said. “That’s kind of the role that has been slated for myself and Justin (Trattou) and other guys who are in competition right now. But every player is different and they possess different skill sets.”
So whereas Tollefson could easily slide inside to play defensive tackle in some schemes, Tracy, at 252 pounds, probably would not do that. But Tracy would be more apt to slide outside as a stand-up defender and could do that better than Tollefson could. Probably more than Trattou could, too, when he returns.
“Last year I was just practicing and learning both positions really because I was getting some looks at linebacker in certain situations as well,” Tracy said. “I haven’t totally given up on that aspect of playing.”
The more you can do.