Rookies primed for NFL debut in Preseason opener

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Giants rookies will make their NFL Debut in the team’s preason opener Friday: 


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – As a youngster growing up in Georgia, Dalvin Tomlinson attended numerous Atlanta Falcons games. And each time he sat in the stands, Tomlinson dreamed of one day playing in the NFL.

Tomorrow night, the dream comes true.  

“I think when I first walk onto the field it is going to hit me, like, ‘Dang, you’re in the NFL,’” Tomlinson said this week. “I am going to have to pause for a second and look around and take it all in.”

The Giants will open their preseason against the Pittsburgh Steelers in MetLife Stadium. Although the game won’t count in the standings and the atmosphere won’t be as juiced as it is in the regular season, it is still an NFL game. And to the Giants’ six 2017 draft choices, that makes it a significant event. While their focus is on executing their assignments and playing well, they will not ignore the fact that they’ve waited a long time to enjoy this moment.

“I definitely want to soak it in,” said tight end Evan Engram, the team’s first-round selection.  “But I do not want to get too caught up in the big lights and be too bright-eyed. It is definitely going to be a great moment, a great feeling. It’s a milestone, so it is definitely going to be a moment I want to take in pregame, definitely.
 
“It’s weird for me. It’s preseason, but it’s the first time I am getting live action. Honestly, you would think I would be nervous, but I am really excited for it. We have been working hard and in practice, it has been really high tempo, really high intensity, great atmosphere. So I am just really excited to get out there and make some plays and actually start using everything I am learning.”

Tomlinson, the defensive tackle from Alabama, is looking forward to going up against someone other than Giants guards Justin Pugh and Adam Gettis.

“I think in every camp you look forward to hitting somebody else,” Tomlinson said. “Hitting your teammates every single day over and over again gets kind of boring after a while.

“I am excited for it. This is my first NFL game. I have always wanted to play in the NFL, so I am pretty excited for it. I have a little butterflies, but that’s every game.”

Third-round choice Davis Webb of Cal might be the most scrutinized of the draft choices, because he is a quarterback. Although he’s had limited team reps in practice, coach Ben McAdoo said Webb will play against the Steelers.

“I am excited to go out there with my teammates first of all and play my first NFL game,” Webb said. “I feel like I am prepared. I have been studying all week preparing for it and just looking forward to playing.”

Webb is soaking up as much knowledge and as many pointers as he can from veteran quarterbacks Eli Manning, Geno Smith and Josh Johnson, and is eager to put them to use in a game.

“I haven’t gotten as many team reps as the other guys, but I feel like mentally, I have been in every single play,” Webb said. “I have not missed one play this fall camp, so I feel prepared, I have been mentally in tune every single play, going through the reads and making the right decision, so I feel ready and I am just excited to play again.”

Wayne Gallman, the running back from Clemson chosen in the fourth round, is competing in a crowded backfield that includes Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa. But he doesn’t want to let the moment pass without appreciating that he is playing in an NFL game.

“It is important to realize where you are, because a lot of people wish they could be where you are,” Gallman said. “You are not supposed to take things for granted, so I will take it in and give thanks. I am looking forward to seeing how the crowd is, what the stadium looks like inside. I have never played inside of MetLife Stadium, so I think it is going to be one of those things where it’s going to be a real surreal feeling. But I know I have to go in there and prove myself.”

Defensive end Avery Moss, the fifth-round choice from Youngstown State, said he normally gets nervous prior to a game, and tomorrow will be no different.

“I definitely get butterflies,” he said. “I get real hyped, real deep into music. I’ll try to be focused, try to think about all of my mechanics and what I have been taught throughout the week according to the game plan. I am ready to get active and hit somebody and have fun with it, and all of my rookie friends that I have made so far, have fun with them and try to dominate as much as we can.”

The matchup is somewhat personal for tackle Adam Bisnowaty, the Giants’ sixth-round choice. He grew up in the Pittsburgh area, was a Steelers fan, and attended games in Heinz Field. Bisnowaty also played at the University of Pittsburgh, which shares a training facility with the Steelers.

“It was cool to be around them a little bit,” Bisnowaty said. “Of course, I am a Giants fan now. But I was always a Steelers fan, so it will be cool to be on the same field as some of those guys. Just being out there is going to be a little surreal, but at the end of the day, that is what we are here for, and I am excited to get out there and get rolling.”

Just like his fellow draftees.

*The Giants today waived/injured defensive back Mykkele Thompson and signed rookie linebacker Jimmy Herman, who attended the team’s rookie minicamp in May.  

Herman, 6-3 and 224 pounds, played in 41 games for Purdue and was credited with 138 tackles (73 solo), including 85 for losses, and a half-sack. He will wear No. 49, and safety Trey Robinson has switched to No. 31.

Thompson’s Giants tenure was plagued by injuries. A fifth-round draft choice in 2015, he tore his Achilles tendon early in the preseason opener in Cincinnati and missed his entire rookie season. Last year, he played in one game — against New Orleans on Sept. 18 — but hurt his foot and was placed on injured reserve. Thompson switched from safety to cornerback this season, but missed practice this week with a quad injury.



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