Niko Lalos started his weekend as a member of the New York Giants practice squad.
By Monday morning the 6-foot-5-inch defensive end had a shoutout from LeBron James and a clutch interception that helped the Giants seal their fourth win of the season.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) November 29, 2020
The connection between the two athletes stems from Lalos and James both graduating from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Ohio.
After graduating from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, Lalos played his college ball at Dartmouth, an ivy league institution. In three seasons on the Dartmouth varsity squad, Lalos recorded 59 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and one interception which he returned for a touchdown.
His collegiate performance was good enough for the Giants to take a chance on him, and they added him to the preseason roster as an undrafted free agent.
Lalos earned himself a spot on the practice squad, and that’s where he stayed for 10 weeks.
He finally got his opportunity to play in a regular-season game on Sunday as the Giants took on the Bengals in a Week 11 matchup. Lalos was called up from the practice squad on Saturday afternoon to add some much-needed depth to a depleted edge rushing unit.
Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter ruptured his Achilles in a week five matchup versus the Cowboys which sidelined him for the remainder of the year. Fellow outside linebacker, Oshane Ximines, was shut down for the season on Saturday after it was announced that he needed shoulder surgery to repair his rotator cuff.
Going into the game, it wasn’t clear what role Lalos was going to play.
Giants beat reporter Art Stapleton speculated that Lalos could take tight end Kaden Smith’s special teams snaps, and possibly even get in on offense.
Niko Lalos did play tight end in high school, so maybe a wrinkle is having him not only take Kaden Smith’s snaps on special teams but maybe a role in jumbo packages on offense if needed, too. https://t.co/tKaPF1NTCV
— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) November 28, 2020
Lalos never saw the field on offense, but he did make a great play to help the Giants take down the Bengals.
With 37 seconds left in the third quarter, Bengals quarterback Brandon Allen threw a pass over the middle intended for Tyler Boyd.
Rookie cornerback Darnay Holmes deflected the ball and it hung in the air long enough for Lalos to come diving in under it to secure his first career interception in his first-ever NFL game.
It's your guy, @KingJames ‼️
— New York Giants (@Giants) November 29, 2020
Lalos showed great instincts and awareness in this play, as he was able to turn, locate the ball, and get his hands underneath it just in time.
A great play that came at a great time.
He was returned to the practice squad after the game, but fans should not be shocked if he is called back up after his exciting performance.
Featured Image: AP Photo/Bryan Woolston