New York Giants: Meet J.T. Thomas


As the season approaches, not many fans expect J.T. Thomas to be one of the team’s defensive stars. Well, he looked like one on Saturday night against his former Jacksonville squad when he registered four tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.

Related: Giants Training Camp: Five Players They Can’t Afford To Lose

Is it time to start paying attention to the five-year veteran? With the team thin at linebacker and in need of an infusion of talent after a poor showing by the linebacker corps last year, maybe Thomas can give them a little spark.

The Giants signed Thomas to a signed to a low risk three-year deal this offseason. They have a knack for finding these types of linebackers. You know, those ones you’ve kind of, maybe heard of but have also been sort of or pretty productive (Michael Boley). Or maybe ones who’ve had past success but are in the twilights of their careers (Keith Bulluck).

Whoever they are, these seem to be the players the Giants have constructed their linebacking corps around for as long as Jerry Reese has been the team’s general manager. The kind-of known, but not really, but sometimes actually, experienced NFL regular.

So, who is Thomas?

Oct 13, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars lineback J.T. Thomas (52) during the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Jaguars 35-19. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Well, he’s a four-year veteran, former sixth round pick of the Chicago Bears who played the last two seasons in Jacksonville. After inking his deal this offseason, Thomas has taken over the weak side linebacker position on the Giants D.

Last season, he forced a couple fumbles, picked off two passes, and registered a career-high 84 tackles while appearing in every game. Not bad for a versatile backup linebacker. And on Saturday night, he certainly looked like an every-down player.

But the question the Giants have to ask this preseason, “Is Thomas a legitimate NFL starter?”

Well, there’s still a lot to consider. Tonight, he was extra amped about facing the team who let him walk this offseason. And it’s not as if that team [Jacksonville] has a stellar offensive line–that unit has had its fair share of struggles. Not to discredit Thomas’ play in any way–he was fantastic–but we need to see how he performs against some better competition, and if he can consistently put out those kinds of performances.

And remember: stats aren’t always the best indicator of how a player is actual performing. While his 84 tackles may seem very productive out of an outside linebacker–especially one who didn’t start every game–that entire Jags defense did not defend the run well last year. And we saw for years how players like Paul Posluszny would rack up huge amounts of tackles after running backs broke through a weak defensive line for 5-6 yard gains. Were Thomas’ respectable numbers a result of Jacksonville’s weak run-defending front? Maybe. I don’t want to say all of it was, but probably some of his production came from that. It’s just something to consider after evaluating tonight’s performance.

But there is one very important factor to consider here: Thomas feels more confident playing in New York after the Jags moved him around to too many different positions. Maybe keeping him at one position lead to more production, and he could then possibly repeat performances like tonight and help lead a Giants defense looking to rebound.

It’s still way too early to tell right now though, and we need to see more of Thomas to know if what he claims will actually hold up. Fans can only hope tonight’s performance is a sign of good things to come for the Giants. And if they are, he’ll prove himself a viable starter. If not, maybe he’ll carve a backup role for the next couple of years in New York.

Considering the Giants’ wildly thin depth at the linebacker position, maybe sticking to their plan and putting Thomas out on the field to start, especially after tonight’s performance, will be worthwhile shot.

Next: New York Giants Game Recap

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