Valentino Blake has left the team for personal reasons. Michael Hunter Jr. is sidelined with a concussion. The Giants are looking to fill in the depth chart behind their starting cornerbacks as they contemplate their eventual 53-man roster, the first draft of which is due a week from tomorrow.
Seems like a great opportunity for Donte Deayon to grab hold of some reps and secure a spot as the team’s fourth cornerback Saturday night against the Jets.
And it is. Just don’t suggest that to Deayon.
“That’s not what’s opening up my opportunity,” said the second-year player, who spent part of last season on the Giants’ practice squad. “What I do on the field and what they [the coaches] do has nothing to do with what’s going on with my fellow teammates. Blake and them not being here doesn’t change my opportunity. My opportunity has been the same since I got here.
“When they gave me the opportunity to play with the ones, Blake was still here, dudes were still here. My opportunity doesn’t have anything to do with guys’ absence.”
Maybe not. But it certainly helps his cause.
Deayon has played some with the starters in training camp, mostly on the inside, but last week, when Eli Apple missed a few days of practice and the Browns game, it was Hunter who took his place. It was Blake who had the most experience among that second-level group fighting for roster spots, having started for the Steelers.
Now, though, Deayon probably is one good game away from earning a regular-season roster spot.
“Donte Deayon’s been playing some good ball for us,” Ben McAdoo said. “Hunter is nicked up right now, he is in the protocol, but he’s been playing good ball for us. So it opens up the window for some other guys.”
“I’m focused on right now, this game coming up, and taking it a day at a time,” Deayon said. “Not looking forward, not looking ahead, just really taking it step by step.”
McAdoo gave little information regarding Blake, who was placed on the exempt/left squad list Wednesday. “He is dealing with some personal issues and we are going to give him space to deal with those issues,” he said.
Deayon said he was caught off guard by Blake’s departure.
“We talked a lot,” Deayon said. “That’s my boy. It was a big surprise.”
The Giants already had been giving Deayon a lot of ways to try to make this team. A popular player who is beloved by the coaches for his attitude and spirit, he’s also been asked to handle special-teams roles this summer. That includes returning kickoffs and punts.
He muffed a punt in the preseason opener and was chided by McAdoo for fair-catching a punt at the 5 Monday night.
More importantly, though, Deayon made a nice interception at the sideline against the Browns, although it was negated by a holding penalty elsewhere on the field. “It was a heck of a play on the boundary,” McAdoo said.
“You just gotta be ready,” Deayon said. “When your number is called, you have to be ready. That’s pretty much it.”
Deayon has earned this latest shot. He’s ready.