When the New York Giants selected Western Michigan cornerback Sam Beal in last July’s NFL Supplemental Draft, they thought they were getting a steal. Then, Beal aggravated a pre-existing shoulder injury upon arrival which would rob him of his entire rookie season.
This offseason, the Giants added three more corners during the draft — Georgia’s Deandre Baker, Julian Love of Notre Dame and Washburn’s Corey Ballentine — to crowd the depth chart, which is topped by veteran Janoris Jenkins.
“The way the league is, you guys are the ones that keep banging at us, pass rushers, corners, that’s what we did,” said general manager Dave Gettleman. “We listened to you, you know.”
Due to several absences and latenesses by the rookies, Beal opened this week’s organized team activities as the starter across from Jenkins. It was the first time Beal has taken the field in a team setting since being drafted.
“First day out there, he looked good. His movement skills were great last year when we saw him, it was just a short period of time,” said head coach Pat Shurmur. “He looked good out there today. It is like anything; he is coming back. They all have to get their legs back a little bit. You saw him stumbling just a little bit. His movement skills are good, it looked like he competed. We will go back and watch the film and see how close he was in coverage but he looked pretty good.”
That doesn’t mean Beal is the starter. The Giants traded three picks to move back in to the first round to grab Baker with the 30th overall selection. Baker is being lauded as a shutdown corner and is projected to be an every down option for the Giants on defense early on.
Beal does have the advantage, however. He may not have played last year, but he absorbed a lot by watching practice and sitting in on meetings. Veteran safety Michael Thomas knows the value of being a student of the game.
“That’s where it all started, and I have no doubt what we saw out there is happening because of how learned to be a pro last year, I have no doubt about that,” Thomas told NorthJersey.com and USA TODAY Network. “His scouting reports were pretty detailed, and he’d get right up there in a room full of vets with confidence, you could tell it meant something to him. He didn’t wait until he got on the field to become a better player, and that’s what we’re seeing.”
Beal, who said he knows he’s a veteran but feels like a rookie, took his rehab assignment seriously last year. He stayed in New Jersey to work his shoulder back into playing shape, which he now feels is “strong.” He was asked what his status was now that the team has brought in a platoon of corners to challenge both him and Jenkins this summer and beyond.
Beal calls the new Giants’ secondary the NYPD — New York Pass Defense — and has already assumed a leadership role even though he also has yet to play a down in this league.
“When they came in, I had to explain something to them,” he said. “Just because I haven’t played doesn’t mean I can’t coach them too. When they came around, I gave them some advice just like the older guys gave me. Coach let us know the same thing, help the younger guys even though I’m a young guy too. I’ve been here, so I have to help them.”