The pain and the agony were always there with Terrell Thomas. He just found a way to ignore them. He knew there were supposed to be limits to what he could do, but he pushed through. And when others told him he couldn’t make it back, he always smiled because he knew he could.

The only thing that stopped him cold was a phone call from Ronnie Barnes last August, less than a week before the 2012 season opener that Thomas was so sure he would play in for the Giants. Barnes, the Giants’ head trainer, was calling to break the news that Thomas’ season was over. His second comeback from a torn ACL had fallen short.

“It was breathtaking,” Thomas says now from his temporary home in Pensacola, Fla. “I couldn’t believe it. I never in my wildest dreams thought this would happen. I honestly killed myself last year getting myself ready. I felt like I was at the same speed, conditioning, explosiveness. I didn’t hold back on my training.

“It was just a total shock. A total blow. I didn’t think this would happen.