New York Giants wide receiver Dan DePalma attended West Chester University, a small Division II school in Pennsylvania. During his time there, he always wondered how his career would have ben different had he been given the opportunity to attend one of the "bigger" football schools. He was always confident in his ability and knew he was a good player, but at the same time, it was unknown to him if his skill set was able to translate to the NFL.
After switching from defense to offense for his junior season at West Chester, DePalma caught 95 passes for 1,794 yards and 18 touchdowns for the remainder of his career. He was signed by the New York Jets last offseason and participated in training camp, but he was waived right before the start of the season. The Giants picked him up and placed him on the practice squad, where he spent all of 2011.
While playing on the Giants practice squad, DePalma has been used to impersonate a multitude of players. However, before last year's Super Bowl, he was given the opportunity to mimic perhaps the one player in the league that has a similar skill set to DePalma and is successful at using it. New England Patriots WR Wes Welker was obviously a big concern for Big Blue's defense heading into the Super Bowl. However, by all accounts DePalma did a fantastic job at giving the defense an idea of how to guard the four-time Pro Bowler.
“Coaches gave me the job of being Welker this week and Edelman on defense,” said the 5-foot-11, 200-pound DePalma. They gave me a DVD with all of Welker’s routes. As much as I can, I try to mimic his movements, his fakes. I try to give our guys that look."
"Hopefully, big things. I know my role will be on special teams mostly. Play some special teams, make some big plays and make some tackles. Just pretty much contribute anywhere I can. I’m that all-around guy that can play a little bit of defense on the practice squad, they can move me around on special teams. Wherever the coach needs me is where I’ll be and I’ll do it to the best of my ability," the wide receiver said.
In order to have a chance at the 53-man roster, DePalma must prove to be an indispensable player on special teams. With the Giants already having a full depth chart at wide receiver, DePalma will most likely have to find a different way to make the team. However, he understands that if he puts in the work, his skill-set has proven to be successful in the NFL.
“It always takes one person to start a little trend – Wes Welker, Wayne Chrebet were smaller WRs, and that gave me an opportunity,” he said.
Believe it or not, DePalma is actually bigger (5'11") and faster (4.43 40-yard dash) than Wes Welker. He will most likely start the season on the practice squad. But if injuries give him an opportunity, he has the potential to be a lethal threat as a slot receiver for the Giants offense. Keep an eye on DePalma's development throughout the season, and do not surprised if he shines when given his opportunity.
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