There is no doubt Jason Pinnock looks the part.
Plug in “prototype versatile NFL safety,’’ and Pinnock’s 6-foot, 200-pound frame appears on the screen.
He thinks so, too.
“I can cover the middle of the field, I can do it all so I think it just helped me transition,’’ Pinnock said. “I’m long, I’m rangy.’’
He is a 24-year-old who hopes to join Xavier McKinney, also 24, in forming a kiddie corps starting safety tandem for the Giants for years to come.
Throw in Dane Belton, 22, and the back end of the defense could be a youthful haven, providing athleticism and a ballhawking presence that was not present last season.
The early moments of the Giants’ 21-16 preseason-opening loss Friday at Detroit belonged to Pinnock.
He thinks so, too.
“For sure,’’ Pinnock said. “You get to get that little high real quick. Get it going for preseason, roll it into the regular. I knew I had about a 15-play cap so I had to make something shake in that 15.’’
Actually, head coach Brian Daboll said the plan going into the game was for Pinnock to play 10-12 snaps.
That did not happen.
Pinnock started, but after five snaps he came to the sideline and never returned to the field. H
e had done enough in those five snaps to convince Daboll that he had seen enough from him.
“So, we got him out, gave some other guys some opportunities,’’ Daboll said. “But, pretty productive day for a short amount of time.”
Yes, pretty productive.
On the Giants’ first snap on defense, the Lions tried to test the young secondary by going deep.
Quarterback Nate Sudfeld was hit by linebacker Tomon Fox and did not get enough on his pass to Jameson Williams.
Pinnock, in perfect position and reading the play all the way, stood his ground and made the interception.
“It came to me like a punt, didn’t need to one-hand this one, Pinnock said.
That was a reference to his highlight-worthy, one-handed interception in training camp earlier this summer, when Pinnock had tight end Darren Waller blanketed and snatched the ball out of the air with the greatest of ease.
The video hit the internet and went viral.
Pinnock called all of that “dope.’’
Pinnock returned the lower degree of difficulty interception 18 yards to set up the first of three field goals by Graham Gano.
On his next defensive snap, Pinnock dropped rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs for a 3-yard loss.
On fourth down in that same series, Pinnock ran with rookie tight end Sam LaPorta and knocked away Sudfeld’s pass.
“He’s explosive,’’ Daboll said. “He was a good addition to our team last year. He played a bunch of special teams but I think he’s done a good job here in camp. Made the most of his opportunity in the short amount of plays, keep grinding along with him.
“He’s done a nice job for us.”
Pinnock was a fifth-round pick of the Jets out of Pittsburgh in the 2022 NFL Draft, but he did not last long and was waived Aug. 30.
That is something of a rarity, a team giving up on a draft choice so quickly.
“A day later, the Giants claimed Pinnock off waivers.
He ended up playing in 12 games, with two starts. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale liked what he saw from Pinnock’s ability to rush the passer as a blitzer and he was often used in that capacity, registering 1.5 sacks.
The Giants had Julian Love ahead of him on the depth chart at safety.
Love is now with the Seahawks and Pinnock appears in line for a starting job, with Belton and veteran addition Bobby McCain as his main competition.
McCain, 29, has 87 NFL starts in his career, and when the Giants signed him during the third week of May, it certainly could have been construed that he was on the scene to work with the first-team defense. Pinnock so far has earned those snaps, and he said he never felt threatened by McCain’s arrival.
“This league is competition,’’ Pinnock said. “I actually saw it as an opportunity to soak up some knowledge. He’s smart as hell. I was excited. I never fear competition. That all falls on your confidence and you’re preparation.’’
At this point, Pinnock has nothing to fear, as far as his ability to carve out a prominent role for himself.
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