Most New York Giants fans have never heard of Dan DePalma, a 5-11, 200 pound wide receiver who spent all of last season on the Giants’ practice squad after spending training camp with the New York Jets. However, DePalma has been getting noticed by the Giants coaching staff and could play a vital role this year for the defending Super Bowl Champions.
The Verona, New Jersey native was signed as an undrafted free agent from West Chester University by the Jets in 2011 but was signed to the Giants practice squad where he spent all of last year helping New York Giants cornerbacks prepare for opposing wide receivers. In the practices leading up to the Super Bowl DePalma played the role of versatile New England Patriots wide receiver/defensive back Julian Edelman on defense and receiver Wes Welker on offense and gave Corey Webster fits in practice.
Don’t expect DePalma to be this year’s version of Victor Cruz. However, don’t be surprised if DePalma makes the team out of training camp. DePalma has been working hard to rehab from offseason hip surgery and so far the early returns in camp are nothing but positive. Whether it is making a catch over the middle, racing down the sideline on special teams to make a tackle, or voicing his willingness to play defense if needed, DePalma is gaining attention.
Because of his work ethic in practice, DePalma has earned a lot of respect from Giants veterans including Corey Webster, who called DePalma the toughest wide receiver to cover in practice just before last year’s Super Bowl. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell also raved about DePalma before the Super Bowl saying he was the “quickest” and “hardest working” receiver on the team.
This year, DePalma has a chance to finally make an impact in an NFL game and not just in the practices leading up to it. With Devin Thomas gone, DePalma knows there is an opening on special teams and he is aiming to fill it. Thomas played a pivotal role in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers on kick coverage for the Giants and DePalma knows he has big shoes to fill. However, that only makes him work harder. He isn’t content with just being a special teams role player. He wants to stay on the field and he doesn’t care if it is as a nickel back, safety, wide receiver, or gunner on special teams.
For a receiver that is considered small by NFL standards, DePalma has quietly accumulated some big expectations. However, just like any assignment, DePalma isn’t shying away from them but rather raising them each time he practices. DePalma was known as “The Secret Weapon” in high school, and is quickly turning into the New York Giants’ secret weapon. The only question is, how long can he keep himself a secret?