Prince Amukamara was one of the slew of Giants defensive backs who were injured before the start of last season. This year, he's looking to capitalize on an opportunity created by yet another training camp injury.
With Terrell Thomas out indefinitely with an injury to the same right ACL that cost him last season, Amukamara appears to be the frontrunner to start at right cornerback. The Giants fear the worst with Thomas, but won't know until the swelling subsides and more tests can confirm the severity of the injury.
Amukamara was never able to live up to his first-round status as a rookie after missing the first seven games due to a broken foot.
"My goal in playing is still the same," said Amukamara. "It's just to come in and compete for a starting spot. I know nothing is going to be given to me, it's just something that I need to earn."
General manager Jerry Reese has challenged Amukamara to step up, and coach Tom Coughlin is beginning to see progress.
"He's gotten better," Coughlin said. "As we were able to use him and play him, coming down the stretch (last season), he has improved. The very fact that he is here and healthy is the biggest thing of all because if that's the case, he's a tough kid. He'll make the physical plays and he'll make his share of plays, too, from the standpoint of coverage.
"He made a great interception last week during practice. We're excited about his development. He's a good kid, he keeps quiet, he keeps to himself. He's a competitive guy. Hopefully, he's ready to unleash."
Thomas' injury will likely force safety Antrel Rolle to reprise the nickel corner job he assumed last season. Rolle came out of the University of Miami as a cornerback.
"The position that we had him playing the past two years has been pretty darn good," secondary/safeties coach David Merritt said. "The kid has stepped up. He has had the ability to play the run and the pass."
Meanwhile, teammates continue to feel for Thomas, who could be staring at a second consecutive season lost to a knee injury.
"I workout with him; we work at the same facility in Jersey from time to time," wide receiver Victor Cruz said. "Seeing him come in working hard and doing what he wanted to do to get back healthy and stuff like that, and seeing him go down again with that injury, it hurts. It's painful. At the same time, it's part of the game. It's unfortunate."
For wide receiver Donenik Hixon, who is working his way back from his own two knee injuries and was with Thomas when he was injured, it hit a bit too close to home.
"He was working hard at coming back and a lot of things he was doing I was doing. We were working out together so I saw how hard he worked," Hixon said. "It was kind of tough seeing him go down just knowing how hard he worked at coming back."