The calendar is proof DeAndre Baker made his NFL debut eight weeks ago, in Arlington, Texas, when the Giants opened their season against the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
Time can be a blur for a 22-year-old in entirely new surroundings, and it has been just that for Baker.
“It seems like it was just a couple of weeks ago,’’ Baker told The Post. “It doesn’t really feel that far away.’’
The Giants hope Baker has come a long way since. The rookie cornerback looked overwhelmed in his first game, part of a defensive backfield that was ravaged for 405 passing yards by Dak Prescott in a 35-17 loss. Michael Gallup amassed 158 receiving yards, and Amari Cooper (45 yards), Reggie Cobb (25 yards) and tight end Blake Jarwin (28 yards) all gathered in long touchdown receptions.
This is the first rematch for Baker, the first chance to show an opponent he is better than what he showed the last time.
“Same player, I’d say, just with more knowledge, way more knowledge of the game, being able to play faster, thing like that,’’ he said. “I’m a way better player than I was since the first game of the season.’’
The Giants need Baker to be a way better player. They traded up into the first round of this year’s draft to take him out of Georgia with the 27th-overall pick. He allowed touchdown passes against him in college less often than the frequency of lunar eclipses. With the Bulldogs, Baker was an aggressive, press cornerback, but he was tentative and unsure of his assignments the first time around against the Cowboys.
Defensive coordinator James Bettcher said, “Yes, I believe so,’’ when asked if Baker is now more ready to cover the Cowboys’ receivers.
“I think he has played progressively better through the course of the year,’’ Bettcher said. “I think technique, fundamentals, awareness of splits and spacing on the field, the things in this league that you have to have to be able to not just win the down but to be able to compete on the down, I think he’s doing a better job at all those. I anticipate him playing better, just like the rest of our guys.”
This is a second time around for Baker for the first time, allowing him to better understand what he is up against.
“That’s helpful,’’ coach Pat Shurmur said. “Here is when you did it well and here is when we had a breakdown and this is what we are going to do to avoid having that happen again.’’
Baker does not say a whole lot. He is one of the rare understated cornerbacks. During the week, in film study, Baker watched how he ran and competed against the Cowboys’ receivers as he readies for another shot at them.
“I just see me being a step away from making a play every time,’’ Baker said, “so just now I know how to prepare and what to prepare for so I can be on time and be in the right place this time.’’
For more on the Giants, listen to the latest episode of the “Blue Rush” podcast:
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