EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Marvin Austin can finally say it.
"I'm an NFL player now," the defensive tackle said Friday with a laugh.
The second-year defensive tackle played in his first NFL game, getting 17 snaps in the Giants' 36-7 win over the Panthers on Thursday night.
"It was a great experience. Dream come true," Austin said. "Just to go out there and run around with the guys and show my brand of football."
Austin was active against Tampa Bay on Sept. 16 but didn't get in. He did not register a tackle Thursday in his first non-preseason game since his junior year of college.
Austin had last played a meaningful game in 2009, in the Meineke Car Bowl with North Carolina in 2009. He was suspended for his senior season in 2010. After being drafted by the Giants in 2011, he missed his rookie season with a torn pectoral muscle he suffered in the preseason.
A back injury slowed him down this preseason and the possibility existed that he would be placed on injured reserved. Instead, he was placed on the 53-man roster and finally was active for a contest when the Giants played the Buccaneers in the second week. While he didn't get a chance to play, he only had to wait four more days before making his debut in the same state where he played his college ball.
"I didn't feel rusty," Austin said. "I don't feel as good as I will be. I don't feel as good as where my work ethic will take me, but it was my first real football game against an unorthodox offense. The offense that they run is not like any other in the league. Not many teams run that offense, so I think I handled it very well."
As one of four active defensive tackles in the game, Austin played 17 snaps, starting in the second quarter. His first two plays were on passing downs and he said he didn't get a great push because he was so focused on stopping the run. As the game wore on, and the Giants forced the Panthers to throw, it allowed him to focus more on getting to the quarterback. He said his back felt fine after the game.
"I played OK," Austin said. "I can get a lot better. I have a lot of things I need to work at and a lot of things I can become more consistent at."