When the Giants traded star receiver Odell Beckham to the Cleveland Browns on March 12, the haul brought versatile safety Jabrill Peppers back home.
Peppers, who rose up the football ranks in New Jersey via Paramus Catholic High School before heading to Michigan for three years and embarking on his NFL career in 2017, debuted Sunday with the Giants in a 31-22 win over the Jets.
The first look for Peppers in the starting defense yielded mixed results with Jets quarterback Sam Darnold going 4-of-5 passing for 68 yards and a touchdown, but the third-year defensive back keeps his head up as he and the Giants move further into the preseason.
"They threw a lot at me when I first got here, I guess they wanted to see how I could handle it," Peppers said Sunday after practice. "I think I handled it pretty well, so I'm gracious because they see that I can receive and put forth information that I'm receiving. So, it definitely means that they definitely have a lot of trust in me. I've just got to make them right and go out there and play good, and make the plays I'm supposed to make."
Peppers provided glimpses of his athleticism while he recorded 136 tackles, four fumble recoveries and two interceptions over 29 games of his first two seasons with the Browns.
Room for opportunity in second-year defensive coordinator James Bettcher's scheme puts the 5-foot-11, 213-pound Peppers in position to make plays.
Among the tweaks, Peppers has bumped inside the box and hovered around the line of scrimmage more, putting him around the ball and keeping the opposing offense on its toes.
"I love it," Peppers said. "It keeps them guessing, keeps you in position to make plays to have an impact on the game."
Peppers, who turns 24 on Oct. 4 and is signed through the 2021 season, has quickly become a cornerstone in the future of the Giants' secondary.
Along with Peppers, the Giants have started to rebuild the secondary around young talent, including three of their 10 picks from the 2019 NFL draft -- first-rounder Deandre Baker, fourth-rounder Julian Love and sixth-rounder Corey Ballentine.
As the youth movement meshes with experienced defensive backs like eighth-year veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins, Peppers' development highlights the unit's potential in 2019 and beyond.
"I think we can be good. I think once we put it all together and everybody plays on one accord and we really get a feel for the next man on how he plays, how he sees one route versus how another guy sees it and the better we can play off of each other, the sky is the limit for us, we definitely have potential."