It was Sunday, Aug. 14 when Josh Rivas got the call to go see the coach. The rookie guard was getting released by the Giants.
Undrafted out of Kansas State, Rivas was working with the third team during training camp and the Giants parting ways with him as they pared the roster to 85 was not exactly a surprise to anyone on the outside, looking in. Rivas, though, is 23 years old and learning he would not be a part of the Giants was not easy for him to hear.
“Obviously it was hard,” Rivas said recently. “I’ve been playing this game since I was in second grade. This is what I’ve dreamed about all my life.
“At first I didn’t feel like it was real. I went to the coach’s office, and they told me. I was like ‘This is like a dream.’ I was trying to pinch myself to wake up. Finally I called my parents, and they were like ‘We’re sorry’ and then it started setting in. My agent called, ‘Here are the next steps.’ ’’
Rivas left New Jersey but only briefly. The difficult summer the Giants are having with their offensive line went from bad to worse — they are down to their sixth center — and reinforcements were needed in order to get through Sunday night’s preseason game against the Bengals at MetLife Stadium. Four days after the Giants cut him, Rivas was told that they wanted to bring him back.
Just like that, Rivas was back in the plans, for at least preseason game No. 2, giving him another shot.
“It does feel like a second chance,” Rivas said. “I’m grateful to be in this position. Not only the coaches, the head office has belief in what I can do and they liked what they’d seen so far and that’s why I’m back.”
It was quite an emotional ride and mileage journey for Rivas, a 6-foot-5, 330-pound guard who made 23 starts at Kansas State. He was part of a bench group that head coach Brian Daboll wanted to put onto the field in the closing minutes of the preseason opener and Rivas played the final three snaps in the 23-21 victory over the Patriots.
After he was cut, Rivas said he was told by the Giants to stay ready and he figured that was free advice about some other team out there that might be interested in him. He figured his time with the Giants was over and done with.
Rivas was on the move. He flew from Newark, N.J., to Denver on Sunday, but his connecting flight to Wichita was canceled. He tried to reach his father, who works for the railroad, but could not get in touch with him. He was picked up in Denver by the father of his girlfriend, who drove Rivas the six hours to Manhattan, Kansas, where his girlfriend is a student. Rivas helped her move back into college and then completed his travels, finally getting home to Hutchinson, Kansas.
Rivas spent time with his parents and grandparents, rode a bicycle and lifted some weights. This past Thursday, he received a call from his agent, who said “You ready to go back to New York?” Rivas, a bit confused, figured his agent was referring to the Jets.
Nope. The Giants wanted him back. Rivas’ father drove him back to Wichita for a flight that got him into Newark around midnight. By 6 a.m. Friday, he was at the Giants’ facility, signed a contract and went to the offensive line meeting.
On the same day they brought back Rivas, the Giants also signed Chris Owens, recently waived by the Steelers. Owens is completely new to the Giants and will have to get up to speed with their offense and play-calls. Rivas was with the Giants all spring and summer and so he is familiar with everything.
Perhaps this reprieve will allow Rivas to make a move to find his way onto the practice squad or the actual roster. Rookie guard Marcus McKethan is already lost for the season to a torn ACL. Other guards — Shane Lemieux and third-round pick Josh Ezeudu — have missed practice time with injuries. The longer Rivas is kept around, the more opportunity there is for him to avoid getting cut, again.
“It was hard for me,” Rivas said of the adventure he undertook. “I’m grateful to be back.”