Johnny on the spot has earned himself a roster spot. The New York Giants have signed defensive end Niko Lalos to their active roster from their practice squad. The undrafted rookie out of Dartmouth had appeared in each of Big Blue’s previous two outings as a standard elevation. NFL rules limit such elevations to two per player, meaning New York had to sign him to their active roster in order to be permitted to deploy him moving forward.
The 23-year-old has played just 34 defensive snaps over his young NFL career but has shown a knack for the splash play. Lalos has recorded a takeaway in both game appearances this year. In Week 12 he intercepted a pass from Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Brandon Allen. Lalos then followed that up with a fumble recovery this past week in New York’s 17-12 upset victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
The defensive end saw a sizeable jump in usage from Week 12 to Week 13, logging 26 defensive snaps against Seattle, 18 more than he had the previous week. Considering New York’s other roster move on the defensive side of the ball, we can likely expect that trend to continue.
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Giants Waive Trent Harris Among 4 Roster Moves
Alongside the Lalos signing and the practice squad addition of quarterback Joe Webb, the Giants opted to say goodbye to two players, terminating the practice squad contract of tight end Nakia Griffin-Stewart and waiving outside linebacker Trent Harris.
Harris, a mid-October signing, began his Giants career on the practice squad but quickly found himself in the team’s rotation at an outside linebacker position littered with injuries. Harris, whose connection with defensive coordinator Patrick Graham dates back to their time together in Miami, was signed to the active roster three days after joining the team. In total, Harris played four games with the Giants, including two starts. Over that span, Harris logged five tackles, one quarterback hit and a half-sack.
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Lalos Turning Heads in New York
With Harris shown the door and both Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines out with season-ending injuries, Lalos will join the unlikeliest of pass-rushing rotations, working alongside veteran Jabaal Sheard, plush fellow rookies Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin.
So how did an undrafted free agent from the FCS find himself in this position as a key piece for a defense looking to make a playoff push?
Well according to defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, it’s all quite simple:
“Here is the easiest thing and it’s simple,” said Graham of Lalos’ growth. “He paid attention when Joe [Judge] went through the first meeting. The more you can do, the better off you will be. It’s not a surprise. He’s around here because he listened to what the head coach told him.”
Not only is Lalos keeping an ear to what the man in charge has to say, but he’s also taking notes from the veterans in the building, namely players such as Logan Ryan. The two came together in a big play two weeks ago, as Ryan recovered a fumble that Lalos helped jar out of Bengals tight end Drew Sample’s grip.
“I look up to Logan and he’s definitely one of like the older guys I’d like to kind of model my work off of my playing style and attitude,” said Lalos of Ryan after the victory over Cincinnati. “So it was cool that I was kind of able to assist him, even though I think he did most of, not all the work.”