EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's all beginning to come back to Terrell Thomas.
On Wednesday, the cornerback had to take a moment to soak in the fact that he was getting back into the routine of playing in the regular season by bringing film home to watch and prepare for the Cowboys. But when Thomas steps onto the field on Sunday night, the cornerback could be overcome with emotion.
Thomas hasn't played in a regular-season game since having 10 tackles against the Redskins in Washington on Jan. 2, 2011. Thomas has endured two surgeries to his right ACL since, and it has been a very long and emotional road back.
"I think it may be a little more emotional," Thomas said of Sunday's game as opposed to playing in his first preseason game in two years against the Jets last month. "When I came home from work (on Wednesday), first (regular-season) day of work in two years, it is just crazy, I got film to watch. It was humbling that I overcame so much and was able to be in this position. I think Sunday will be a lot more emotional. The Jets game I was just more excited."
Thomas is expected to contribute as a nickel cornerback against the Cowboys. Corey Webster and Prince Amukamara will start on the outside, and Aaron Ross and Thomas will come in on passing downs and help cover slot receivers as well.
"We think he’s ready," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "We’re not going to shy away from putting him on the field. We believe that he’s going to go out and prove himself, and we like the way he’s looked in practice as well as the preseason games. It’s game time."
Fewell admitted that the team has considered using Thomas as an emergency safety as well, but that there's nothing "definite, but we have a plan." Thomas said he has not taken a physical snap at safety yet, but has done some mental reps to prepare for safety.
Still, safety Antrel Rolle joked that he dubbed Thomas as 'Lil' 'Trel" because Thomas is learning multiple roles in the defense, which seems to indicate that Thomas could play a bigger role as the season progresses.
"Yeah, we got to nip that in the bud right now," Thomas joked of being called "Lil' 'Trel." "He can kill that. T2, Terrell Thomas, Deuce, whatever you want to call me, but I ain’t no 'Lil' 'Trel.'"
If all goes well this season, Thomas would also like to be called "Comeback Player of the Year" by the end of 2013.
"If I don’t get that, that’s not a problem," he said. "I've done enough on two ACLs ... It (would be) a great honor to be honored by your peers, but it doesn’t define my season."