One game into the season, Aaron Ross is ready to go home.
No, not as in pack up and go home. He and his plantar fasciitis-ridden right foot are ready to go back to his natural position at cornerback, one hamstring injury-ruined season after he played in spurts at safety. In fact, he hasn’t played a snap at cornerback since 2008. So to say he’s looking forward to Sunday night’s game against the Colts is an understatement.
“I practiced every day this week, full practice,” the former first-round pick of 2007 said. “My heel felt fine. There is no more exciting week to play than to play against the Colts.”
This is one of those weeks where the Giants can use as many able cornerbacks as possible. With the Colts sporting five quality targets, including wideout Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark, the Giants will be playing a lot of nickel. It’s entirely likely that Ross will be in there quite a bit playing the outside receiver with fellow cornerback Corey Webster, while starter Terrell Thomas moves inside on the slot receiver. You see, every down is a potential passing down for Peyton Manning and his crew.
“He’s doing better,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “He did better every day this week and so I think he’s going to be ready.”
The question hanging over Ross involves how far he can go on an aching foot.
He’s trying not to think about that aspect.
“I’m trying not to, but this will be the first game so I’m going into it with my mind ready,” Ross said. “I practiced hard and it didn’t bother me. The trainers did a tremendous job in getting me back. I’m all the way in.
“Once I’m on the field, I’m ready. I have padding under it to help protect it a little bit, but after that, I’m ready to go.”
After last season, Ross is eager for any challenge. He missed the first nine games with hamstring problems, then returned for four games, making his first start at safety Dec. 13 against Philadelphia. He was inactive for the final two games.
Just as well. That secondary was a mess. Between injuries and communications problems, nobody seemed to know what they were doing. At least this time, Ross heads into an improved unit that hopes to prosper under defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s turnover-inducing style.
That he’ll return against the Colts’ Hall-of-Fame caliber quarterback makes the challenge all the more intense. Not that the Giants couldn’t have used him, anyway. CB Bruce Johnson, beset by knee swelling, is probable, but could be slowed.
“I’m very excited to get out there,” Ross said. “It’s something I’ve been waiting for a whole year now. I didn’t get to play much last year, and none at corner. This year will be the first time at corner, and I’m really excited about it.”
Manning undoubtedly will be targeting Ross, especially if he’s matched up with downfield threats Wayne or Austin Collie, or even Pierre Garcon. As he should. Ross could be rusty in the position. After the 2009 he had, he could be rusty in any capacity.
But Ross can’t think about that. He’s got to worry about keeping up on the bad foot. He still has pain, despite extra padding and a careful tape job.
“I can get through it,” he said. “Of course, the pain is still there but it’s something I can play with.”
The Giants can only hope. They’ll need all available hands come Sunday. Unless Ross suffers a setback Saturday, he’ll be one of them.