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Why Darnay Holmes Loves the New Giants Defensive System

Darnay Holmes has had himself a strong training camp in a new defensive system he thinks fits what he does best well.

Cornerback Darnay Holmes has experienced an up-and-down journey over his first two years with the New York Giants.

After a promising rookie campaign where he tallied 30 combined tackles, five passes defended, and one interception in 12 games played, Holmes’ sophomore season was cut short due to a rib injury that led Holmes to miss the final six games of the season.

“It was difficult to come to terms with,” said Holmes when asked about the difficulty of his injury and not being able to go out there with his teammates.

“Laying up in the hospital bed, I feel like I was at a point where the tide was turning into my favor, but at the end of the day, it was something that came, and I just had to deal with it."

Behind the injury was a silver lining.

“Pretty much when the injury came, I was able to reflect a lot and just be a student of the game," Holmes recalled. "You know, learn from the other guys, and just be locked in and understand more of the system being taught. More of the game of football--Football 101 type of things.”

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As Holmes threw himself into rehab and training to prepare for his third NFL season, he had to start from scratch again in a new defensive system implemented by Don "Wink" Martindale.

Though Martindale is notorious for his aggressive defensive philosophy and blitz-heavy tactics, Holmes has embraced the change of pace and is looking forward to showing how he’ll fit into this new defense.

“I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity," he said before revealing one of the things he likes most about the new defense. 

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“You know, early on in my rookie year, I was labeled as a guy who was blitzing--a lot of people might have forgotten that. I definitely have a tool in the tool bag. Wink is going to unleash it.”

For Holmes, acclimating to this big of an adjustment begins with acceptance of given circumstances but also comes down to welcoming change and growth.

“I’m a guy who is very open-minded, so I’m constantly evolving,” he said. “I’m more in tune with things. I’m in tune with understanding that you’re never going to be able to eliminate doubt. You’re never going to be able to eliminate fear.

"You’re never going to be able to eliminate the inevitable of losing reps. Having the understanding that when I hit that field, it might not go my way and be able to respond. I feel like I’m more grounded and more free-flowing.”

Martindale has had nothing but high praise for the work Holmes has put in and the versatility he’s highlighted so far over the summer.

“What I like about Nay is he’s been productive while in there, and he wants to go against the best every time he gets in the one-on-one reps, and I love his toughness,” said Martindale.

“You know, I call him ‘Dirty 30’--I love his toughness, and I’m not saying he plays dirty. I’m just talking about how he embraces the grind of practicing every day, doing things right, and asking the right questions. He’s got some qualities that we haven’t had before at that position.”

As the Giants' first preseason game approaches on Thursday, much is left to do in preparation for the regular season. But Holmes intends to stay locked in as he polishes his skills for Week 1.

According to Holmes, the key to continued progress is to stay the course.

“Allowing things you’ve been doing to be seen on the field. Allowing it to be translated, and not being so caught up in the mental thing, the mental side of the game," he said when asked how he is staying the course.

"Just being free-flowing and understanding that if you put the work in, you’re prepared for anything you face once you hit that field.”

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