He’s new here, but he’s more proficient on the Giants’ defense than the guys who were with the team in the spring and summer.
“It’s a real statement,” said safety Tony Jefferson.
how can that be?
Here’s how: Jefferson played three seasons and part of his fourth with the Ravens, with Wink Martindale as linebackers coach and then defensive coordinator. That makes Jefferson a well-brained rookie, as he was signed into the training class last week and is expected to be promoted to the active roster soon.
Jefferson fit into his practice gear, and after his first practice with his new team, he realized how much he kept, and what he had collected in his first rematch with Martindale, in his First season as defensive coordinator for the Giants.
“Oh yeah, it’s pretty much the same defense I had in Baltimore,” Jefferson said. “For me, everything is smooth. When you’re in the movie room, it feels so good, it’s the same text, the same language, and it’s easy for me to go out and play fast.”
Jefferson will be a factor in the Giants defense sooner or later. The 30-year-old, who went undrafted in Oklahoma, was a full-time starter for the Cardinals in his first four NFL seasons. His workouts in the desert earned him a four-year, $34 million deal with the Ravens. He started as linebackers coach in 2017 and again in 2018 as Martindale to oversee the Ravens defense. Jefferson suffered a knee injury early in the 2019 season and missed the entire 2020 season and was released.
After playing two games for the 49ers in 2021, Jefferson was re-signed by the Ravens and played in four games. He was at camp in Baltimore this summer but was let go in late August.
A veteran had to swallow some of his pride to get a spot in the training class. Jefferson said he turned down offers from other teams to come to the Giants. He knows what’s going on with his new team.
The starting safety guards are Xavier McKinney and Julian Love. Fourth-round pick Dane Belton from Iowa State will enter the rotation when his collarbone fully heals — possibly as early as this week. The Giants announced last week that they waived Jason Pinnock (Jets) and Justin Ryan (Steelers). They will fight for safe playing time as they make their mark on special teams. Jefferson is by far the most experienced pick.
“I think that’s everybody’s goal, they want to be 53,” Jefferson said. “You go through spring, you go through training camp, and you want to end at 53. Now, the way it works, you can basically be a guy on the practice team and show up at 53. I just take it in stride. After all, I don’t really care about the title if I get the chance. I just want to go out and play football. “As an old guy like me, I’ve been around. It’s good to be able to understand the system because it allows me to play fast, and when you play fast, for me, that’s when I’m at my best. This is also an important reason why I choose to come to New York. “
The 5-foot-11, 211-pound Jefferson may soon be out of his training class.
“It’s all good, of course there’s a chance, just knowing the defense and stuff helps me get on the court,” he said. “At the same time, I have to go out there and perform and prove to the staff and the organization that I can do it and do it at a high level.”