Looking back to a few weeks ago at my first game since 2010 -- 980 days from the last time I played, as my mom likes to put it -- it was a tough loss, and I was devastated in a way. There is no better win than one against the Dallas Cowboys, and we didn't get it, but I could not help but to feel this positive inner-glow. After two ACL injuries, I was so blessed to be able to come back and restart my career playing in the fashion that I did. I was happy, considering my journey and, more importantly, the people who were there with me. I know that it put a smile on all of their faces because it's been a tough couple of years for all of us. That is, for my immediate family, friends (and Twitter followers); they've all uplifted me and have seen me through to this day.
But back to the game, I was really happy with my performance. On the interception route, I tweaked my hamstring. It caused me to play a little bit softer on Miles Austin midway through the second quarter. I kept saying to myself, "How bad do you want it? He wouldn't have brought you this far for you to give up hope." I started to play more aggressively, and I knew that my hamstring would be okay. I knew that God would see me through it. In that moment, I became more productive and more physical, which allowed me to play better the rest of the game.
That is what life is all about -- it's all about the challenges. I could have easily told the coaches that I couldn't play, but I asked the staff to wrap me up. I had to adjust and play to my strengths. I told some of the players around me that I was nursing somewhat of a light hamstring, but that I wasn't going to quit on them. The lesson there is about being resilient in the moment; nothing in life is easy. If you want something then you're going to have to take it. That's how I approach any situation in life because I hate coming up short.
Overall, and more than anything, I enjoyed the week of preparation and getting back to my Wednesday, Thursday, Friday routine. I missed the grind with my teammates as we prepared for Week 1. You forget about going through these rituals. For instance, on Fridays, coming home to get a haircut, massage -- all of the things that players do to get their minds right. It was definitely refreshing after not allowing myself to be part of that process for so long.
During the following week, we prepared for Denver. I was excited as it was my chance to play again against a future Hall of Famer in Peyton Manning. It is every cornerback's dream to play against these legends, and that is exactly what Peyton Manning is in my opinion. I respect his game, craft, passion, and everything that he's brought to the NFL. As a young kid looking up to this guy, it was a chance to compete against him. Also, I was looking forward to the challenge of playing against Wes Welker, one the league's top wide receivers. There is no one better in the slot than him. He always finds a way to get open; he's very crafty. At this point, I thought to myself that there was no better stage than to prove to myself, my peers, my coaches, and the NFL as a whole. It was not through a charity act on the part of the Giants that gave me the opportunity to play football again -- I regained my spot on the team through months of hard work.
I took this challenge very personally. At the beginning of the week, the coaches told me that I would be guarding Welker for the majority of the game. I was excited about the challenge. As soon as I found out, I sent a text to Julian Talley, our practice squad receiver. I sent him a clip of Wes and asked if he could watch his releases and the way he runs his routes. I wanted Julian to mimic him in practice on Wednesday. I felt this would help me with my coverage and give me a competitive edge. These are little things that help athletes prepare for their opponents. I made sure to eat lighter that week, including a lot of lean protein (fish and chicken) and salad. I wanted to ensure that my body was in a place to be at its peak in terms of speed and agility for my tough match-up against Welker. Most importantly, I wanted to prepare myself so that when I got my hands on Wes, I would be able to affect him with my size, speed and long arms.
Reviewing the game against Denver, I think my strategy and technique helped me on the field. I believe I did a great job frustrating him. I held him to two catches, which was a big improvement from the first week. Like I said throughout training camp, I wanted to build every day, week and game. I was happy with my progress through two games but we were still 0-2 and had a lot of work to do.
I am still getting back into the grove after these first few games. I have learned to prepare more in order to believe what you see and to anticipate rather than react. Secondly, it's been a while since I've played this game, and I need to get my feet and eyes underneath me. I want to play as if I never got injured and never took a break -- that's my mentality and always will be. I appreciate you guys following my blog. Like I've mentioned, I want to give you an in-depth look into my mindset, thoughts, feelings (good and bad), recovery from a second ACL injury, and returning to professional football.