New York Giants rookie defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson has probably been waiting like forever to put the pads on in training camp to show his new coaching staff what he can do.
And what Tomlinson hopes to do is convince the Giants coaches that he’s the right man to step into the spot vacated by Johnathan Hankins on that defensive line.
“I think I did pretty good today,” Tomlinson said after the team completed its first semi-padded practice Tuesday, a practice in which the defensive linemen had a chance to work against the Giants running game.
“I think I had some good things, things I also need to work on. Just new playbook and new game plan. Just getting used to everything and adjustments out there.”
Tomlinson, drafted in the second round this year by the Giants, admitted to having some jitters being that this was really the first day he and the rest of his fellow defenders could let loose. He has primarily been working with the second team defense, though today he did get a few snaps alongside of Damon Harrison, whom he’d like to pair with once the season starts.
Harrison said earlier in the year that he reached out to Tomlinson to offer assistance. Having worked with the Giants big run stopper, Tomlinson has been able to develop a better feel for the man who just might become his neighbor on that defensive line.
“I feel like he’s the best defensive tackle nose guard in the NFL,” the rookie said. “I have a lot to learn from him still. I go out there every day with him just keep learning the small things with him and he’s getting me better as a whole player. The more and more I play beside him, the more and more I get comfortable playing there.
“I feel like we’d be a great defensive front with us two up there,” he added.
The challenge for Tomlinson, who some believe is a carbon copy skill-wise to Harrison, will be to show that he can become that penetrating 3-technique defensive tackle Hankins was.
Last year, Hankins recorded 3.0 sacks, less than half of the 7.0 he recorded in 2014, his second NFL season and his best to date. Per Pro Football Focus, Hankins recorded 22 pass-rush pressures (sacks, hits and hurries combined) in 2016, tying him for 18th most among the league’s defensive tackles.
Tomlinson wasn’t about to make any predictions about what his numbers might look like, but he did express confidence that he could emerge victorious in the competition for the job which also includes Jay Bromley, Corbin Bryant and Robert Thomas.
“I feel like I can grab that spot because it’s one of those spots you have to be physical in there every single play and I’m that type of player to go in there and be physical,” Tomlinson said.
“You have to be out here soaking into the team to play that position because – defensive tackle – you make a lot of plays, but also you have to open up a place for other people. So, you have to go in there and be aggressive and physical every single play.”
Tomlinson admitted that not being able to be physical was tough, but now that the pads and contact are allowed, his objective in winning the starting job is simple.
“Just go out there and just make sure I can prove and show how aggressive I am getting off blocks and just making plays in the defensive tackle position,” he said.