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Can Terrell Thomas Save The Giants Secondary?

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Terrell Thomas could be the X-Factor that the Giants secondary needs to have a bounce-back season. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images.
Terrell Thomas could be the X-Factor that the Giants secondary needs to have a bounce-back season. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images.

In 2012, the New York Giants' cornerback play was less than stellar, to put it in the most generous way possible. In other words, if Perry Fewell wasn't bald, he probably would have ended up pulling out all of his hair after the 1,500th time a Giants cornerback was burned on a big play to convert a 3rd-and-long. To make a long story short, the Giants need just about all of the help they can possibly get at the cornerback position in 2013, and they're hoping that some of that help can come from Terrell Thomas.

If you're just joining the program, you may not recognize the name considering he hasn't suited up in a regular season game since the 2010 season. Thomas suffered a torn ACL in a preseason game against the Chicago Bears in August of 2011 and missed the entire season — one that would ultimately end in another Giants Super Bowl title. Then, last summer, Thomas returned to training camp looking to make a comeback and pick up where he left off after a monster season in 2010, where he racked up five interceptions, four forced fumbles and 101 tackles.

That comeback was cut short, though, when Thomas slipped on some grass in the early days of camp and aggravated his recuperating knee — an injury that initially seemed innocuous. After a few days, when the nagging injury wouldn't improve, he was diagnosed with yet another torn ACL and put on season-ending injured reserve on August 31, only a few days before the season was set to begin. The injury was devastating not only for Thomas, but for the Giants secondary, stretched thin enough as it was.

Now, with the 2013 season inching closer and the team beginning OTAs this week, the Giants are hoping that Thomas can beat the odds and make a full recovery from back-to-back ACL injuries. According to Thomas, as reported on the Giants.com blog, he rushed himself back to the field too soon last season and he doesn't want to make the same mistake again. “There’s no hurry. There’s no rush," said Thomas. "There wasn’t one last year. I was just ahead of schedule last year. This year, we’re kind of just taking it a little bit slower as far as rehab, building the foundation. I’m doing everything already. It’s just doing it a little bit more slower and not in a rush to get out there for OTAs or minicamp.”

At this point, after three ACL surgeries in a span of five years, you have to figure that Thomas' right knee is about as close to bionic as you can possibly get. The right ACL has been repaired and rebuilt more times than the engine on a '78 Chevy Nova, and by now, there's no telling what will happen when Thomas returns to the field during full-contact drills. The way I see it, it can go one of two ways: either his knee makes a full recovery and he can slowly work his way back to top shape, or his knee is never the same and he loses a lot of speed, his ability to make cuts and cover receivers in the open field.

ACL injuries are notoriously difficult to recover from. Just recently, we've witnessed two different outcomes from major ACL injuries in two different sports. Last season, Adrian Peterson returned from a torn ACL that he suffered late in the 2011 season to rush for over 2,000 yards and win the league's MVP award. In the NBA, Derrick Rose suffered a torn ACL during the first round of the 2012 playoffs and missed all of the 2012-2013 season.

Thomas' importance to the Giants secondary can't be understated, especially now, when the team is relying on a second go-round from Aaron Ross to give the unit a lift. When Thomas was at his best in 2009 and 2010, he was among the best cornerbacks in the division and certainly a game-changer in the Giants secondary. His 10 interceptions in those two seasons were the most on the team during that time span, and he also led the team in tackles in 2009 with 85. His presence on the field was a major asset for the Giants defense, and it's one that they have sorely missed over the course of the last two seasons. If Terrell Thomas can make a comeback in 2013 and regain his form, the Giants defense would benefit immensely from his contributions.