Thursday, August 7, 2014
'Quiet assassin' Thurmond standing out
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Reputations are funny things, and when a guy comes to you from the defensive backfield of the 2013 Seattle Seahawks, you expect ... well, you expect someone loud and maybe a little bit obnoxious. In that respect, cornerback Walter Thurmond has not been what the New York Giants expected.
"We call him the quiet assassin," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "So he's more quiet than I expected him to be. But he's the assassin. He loves to compete."
There's not a player in New York Giants camp who's been more consistently impressive, day after day in practice, than Thurmond. The Giants signed him to be their slot cornerback, so when they run first-team vs. first-team he covers Victor Cruz, who has not caught very many passes this camp at all.
"Our secondary is really good, and I know this because they give me fits each and every day out here," Cruz sighed when asked about the new cornerbacks Wednesday. "It's good to go up against guys that are like that, because that's what we're going to face all year long. Guys are going to try to be physical and press us and things like that, and we have to be ready."
Practicing against Thurmond should help Cruz get ready, because it's no stretch to say that Thurmond is the best slot corner in the league. The Giants believe he can play on the outside if need be, and it's important to Thurmond that they and other teams see him as someone who's versatile like that. But in the slot, he's an elite player.
"We feel like we can use him on the outside, but boy I like him in the slot," Fewell said. "Just knowledge, know-how. It's the 'it' factor. People try to describe 'it?' He's got 'it.'"
If the Giants can keep Thurmond in the slot with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara on the outside, they'll love their cornerback situation. They'll be able to keep Antrel Rolle, who always seems to have to spend part of the year in that nickel corner role, at safety full-time, which will make him happy and more effective. And as long as Thurmond is lined up against slot receivers, they'll feel they have an advantage against the opponent's passing game.
"I have the confidence in myself to believe I'm the best at what I do," Thurmond said earlier in camp. "And I think I bring that out onto the field with me every single play. To play cornerback, and to play that nickel spot, that's the way you have to look at it."
That's the way the Giants look at Thurmond, who has a chance to turn out to be their best value signing of the offseason.