Devin Thomas makes mark for Giants
When it was all over -- when the Giants had easily defeated Washington 31-7 and effectively ended the Redskins' playoffs hopes -- Devin Thomas sought out Mike Shanahan, the man who fired Thomas from his first job not long ago.
"I tried to find him," said Thomas, who played his first game with the Giants on Sunday since New York claimed him off waivers nearly two weeks ago, "but he snuck out of there so fast."
And what would Thomas have said?
"I just wanted to say, 'Thank you. Thank you for everything,'" said Thomas, who was released by the Redskins in October. "I feel like our relationship -- even though people say I was in the doghouse -- I feel like he still coached me up and tried to make me a better player and make me the best that I could be. Unfortunately, I couldn't do that there. It took a lot of growing up."
Thomas played his most substantial game since the Redskins released him, making his mark on special teams and flustering the Redskins at times. Lining up at gunner, Thomas made a big tackle on Terrence Austin on the game's second kickoff. At the start of the second quarter, Thomas raced downfield and was able to down a Giants' punt on the Washington 5-yard line. On a punt return in the fourth quarter, he shoved Brandon Banks out of bounds at the Redskins' 14-yard line. But the biggest play for Thomas was the partially-blocked punt in the fourth quarter.
With the Redskins backed up to their own nine-yard line, Thomas said he knew Washington punter Hunter Smith was dealing with a short field.
"I felt like all game I was kind of having strength leverage over Kareem [Moore], getting him on his heels," Thomas said. "So when I seen the opportunity, I pushed him back and was able to rip. When I looked, I seen the foot of the punter, so I thought, 'Let me get this arm up.' And I got a piece of the ball."
The punt traveled only eight yards and the Giants took over on the Redskins' 13-yard line, eventually netting a field goal out of it.
For Thomas, there were slight pangs of revenge -- or perhaps redemption, he said -- attached to Sunday's performance.
"Did I make my point? Yeah, I guess so," he said. "To do it against them, make them look at film and say, 'Man, why did we let him go?' That's something I was definitely looking forward to."
Shanahan had very little to say about Thomas after the game.
"I didn't get a chacne to really see him," he said. "I understand he had the blocked punt. That's some good effort. Besides that, I really didn't [see him]."
Though the Giants were without receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks, Thomas was not involved in the New York passing game. All in all, he said he enjoyed playing against his former team and seeing his former teammates.
"I was looking forward to every opportunity I had to touch that field today. I know the personnel there like the back of my hand," he said. "So just to go against the guys I practiced with for three years, it was fun to take that challenge."
Thomas started the season returning kicks in Washington but New York used him in a gunner role on special teams. He said he'd practiced at gunner in both Washington and Carolina, who initially claimed him off waivers in October before parting ways with him last month, but Thomas never played the role during an actual game until Sunday. He says it helped that he was so familiar with Banks.
"We knew how dangerous he is," he said. "He's quick and one thing about him, if he stops -- he can go. He's got the quick zero to 60. We all stressed the fact of not allowing him to have a big day."
Though he didn't have a chance to chat with Shanahan after the game, Thomas said he was chatting with Washington players before, during and after the game.
"They're my boys," he said. "They're like, 'DT, you shoulda never left. They should never have gotten rid of you' and stuff. I was hearing a lot of that. They're still my boys."
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