Thomas Shooting For Breakout Year

Thomas Shooting For Breakout Year

Terrell Thomas could be headed for a Pro Bowl season after stepping up the last two at cornerback. But he may have to assume some additional duties now that Deon Grant is gone.

Justin Tuck recently called Terrell Thomas "a Pro Bowl" player.

And Thomas, a confident sort, found it hard to disagree with his defensive captain.

With a growing reputation as a physical and gifted cornerback, Thomas has made an impact on the Giants' secondary the last two seasons, ever since former first-round pick Aaron Ross went down with hamstring problems in 2009.

But now, he appears headed for a breakout into the elite class, which one only gets through a steady building of reputation. In Thomas' case, that may come with a season of shifting gears.

The Giants, you see, are going to have Thomas play not only the corner, but the down-safety responsibilities that departed safety Deon Grant performed last year to great effect. Thomas' aggressiveness and willingness to stick his nose in where most DBs don't belong makes him the ideal replacement for Grant.

Plus, he led the team in tackles last season with 101.

"He's done such a great job in run support," secondary coach Pete Giunta said. "That's the first time I've ever seen a cornerback lead a team in tackles. If he combines consistency with the way he plays the ball, he can make the Pro Bowl, sure."

Receivers have said that once Thomas gets his hands on them at the line of scrimmage, there's no escaping the jam. And now, as the Giants seek to continue the three-safety alignment in the absence of extensive linebacker quality, Thomas is looking forward to a new job.

"Right now, Terrell Thomas is the one," safeties coach Dave Merritt said. "We see him as one who fits those packages. We can put him in there at linebacker in a four-cornerback system. We've had Antrel Rolle down and deep, too. But not having Deon anymore, we have to develop the next guy.

Who is that next guy?"

Thomas, apparently. Or, at least he'll be a willing participant.

"It's not that hard," Thomas said. "I've played a lot of nickel coverage against two tight ends. A lot of it's the same. My game speaks for itself. I'm a physical corner."

The danger here is that the coaching staff could give Thomas too much to do, and thus dilute his effectiveness. It's happened to others -- Shaun Williams and Ross, for two. Ross, in fact, has said he no longer wants any part of the spot safety role he played last year. He's down to nickel and dime on the depth chart now.

But Thomas is more than willing to go into his multi-faceted role.

It could be his ticket to the Pro Bowl.

"I've been trying for the Pro Bowl since '09, when I started to start," Thomas said. "It's a matter of being consistent. When you're in there with a bunch of stars, you tend to get overlooked.

"But you look at my numbers the past couple of years, I'm starting to show who I am. Hopefully, my play will continue."

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