EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants lost to the Jets on Saturday and looked far from ready for the regular season.
But for Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas, it was one of the best nights of his life.
Thomas played in an NFL game for the first time in two years after missing two consecutive seasons due to ACL tears in his right knee and wondering if he would ever play football again.
"I feel great. It’s a long time coming. I’m blessed to be in this situation," Thomas said after the Giants' 24-21 overtime loss to the Jets. "To get out there and be able to come back in the way I did -- just to be out there with my teammates against a good opponent like the Jets is -- I had a lot of fun today."
Thomas predicted earlier this week that he would be emotional when he took the field Saturday night, but it didn't turn out that way.
"Not at all," Thomas said. "I wasn’t nervous. I was ready to go, like I never left. I think that’s the best thing. The confidence is getting there. Everything is coming along nice, right on pace like I wanted."
"It was weird. I thought I would cry, but I never did," Thomas added. "I was excited the whole time. Everyone was happy for me, saluting me, and it just felt good to get back out there with my team."
Prince Amukamara and Aaron Ross were the Giants' starting cornerbacks -- Ross replacing the injured Corey Webster. But coach Tom Coughlin threw Thomas right into the mix on the very first series of the game.
"He got over 20-plus plays and we got him out," Coughlin said. "But, hopefully, it’ll build his confidence."
Amukamara, who had never played with Thomas in a game before, liked what he saw. "T2 [Thomas] looked awesome. He looked like he never missed a beat," Amukamara said. "It’s my first time on the field with him, and he’s very comfortable and it’s great to have another veteran like that on the field."
Thomas was on the verge of a breakout season two summers ago before he tore his ACL in a preseason game against the Chicago Bears. He had started 31 of 32 games for the Giants in 2009 and 2010, his second and third seasons in the league, and had five interceptions each season.
If he can regain that form, or get anywhere close, it would be a huge boon for the Giants. Amukamara continues to improve, and Webster and Ross are veterans. But Webster is coming off a bad season, Ross has been up and down in his career and young corner Jayron Hosley suffered an ankle injury against the Jets.
Plus, you can never have enough talented corners in this league.
Thomas said his knee felt great after the game, and he felt like his old self on the field -- good news for Big Blue.
"Obviously, I need to work on my timing. That’s one thing we couldn’t get a lot of experience on [in practice]," Thomas said. "But I got out there, blitzed, I fell, I covered, I tackled. I think I had a good showing for my first preseason game after two years, so I’m happy with the results."