Safety Tony Jefferson has a huge head start joining the Giants


He’s new here, yet he knows the Giants defense better than the players who’ve been with the team all spring and summer.

“It’s a real statement here,” said security Tony Jefferson.

How is it possible?

Here’s how: Jefferson spent three seasons and part of a fourth playing safety for the Ravens, where Wink Martindale was linebacker coach and then defensive coordinator. That makes Jefferson a well-indoctrinated newcomer, as he was signed to the practice squad last week and is expected to be elevated to the active roster for too long.

Jefferson was fitted for his practice gear, and after his first session with his new team, he realized what he had learned and gleaned from his first round with Martindale, in his first season as a Giants. defensive coordinator.

“Oh yeah, that’s pretty much the same defense I used in Baltimore,” Jefferson said. “Everything was pretty smooth for me. It’s pretty good to feel that when you’re in the theater, it’s the same words, the same language, easy for me to go out and play fast.

Tony Jefferson
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Jefferson could be a defensive factor for the Giants sooner rather than later. The 30-year-old, undrafted from Oklahoma, started full-time with the Cardinals in his first four NFL seasons. His work in the desert landed him a four-year, $34 million contract with the Ravens. He started in 2017 when Martindale was the linebackers coach and again in 2018 when Martindale led the Ravens defense. Jefferson blew his knee early in the 2019 season, missed all of 2020 and was released.

After playing two games with the 49ers in 2021, Jefferson was re-signed by the Ravens and played in four games. He was in camp in Baltimore this summer but was cut at the end of August.

A veteran must swallow some of his pride by accepting a spot on the practice squad. Jefferson said he turned down offers from other teams to come to the Giants. He knows the terrain with his new team.

Starting safeties are Xavier McKinney and Julian Love. Rookie Dane Belton, a fourth-round pick from Iowa, will be in the rotation when he fully heals from a broken collarbone — that could be as soon as this week. Last week, the Giants claimed waivers Jason Pinnock (Jets) and Justin Layne (Steelers). They’ll be pushing for game time at safety as they make their mark on special teams. Jefferson is by far the most experienced option.

“I think that’s everybody’s goal, they want to be on 53,” Jefferson said. “You go through the spring, you go through the camp and you want to finish on 53. These days, with the way it works, you can basically be a practice squad guy showing up on 53. I take it in stride, if I take the chance, I don’t care too much about the title. I just want to be there and play football. “Being an old guy like me, I’ve been around. Being able to know the system is a good thing because it allows me to play fast and when you play fast, for me that’s where I play best. C This is one of the main reasons I chose to come to New York as well.

It may not take the 5-foot-11, 211-pound Jefferson long to lose his practice squad designation.

“It’s all good, of course the opportunity, just knowing the defense and all of that can help me be able to get on the pitch,” he said. “At the same time, I have to go out there and play, prove to the staff and the organization that I can do it and do it at a high level.”


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