The 2011 New York Giants’ defensive backs were snake-bitten last year. They dropped like flies from training camp onward. Oddly enough, the injury bug hung out with the team well into the playoffs. This offseason, General Manager Jerry Reese has addressed the possibility of this type of repeat (or not!) and stocked up on depth heading into training camp.
Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell knows his defensive strengths: the front four and rotation of key players to keep opposing offenses off their game. QB quick-drops/releases and increased use of the hurry-up at times puts more pressure on the defensive backfield. Will this year show marked improvement or more of the same blown coverages on big plays?
Training camp battles with the defensive backs are a bit different than most other positions within the Giants organization. Most of them bond together, even when split into two groups: cornerbacks and safeties. The brotherhood that’s built with these players is strong and clear to see. Part of this is due to Safeties Coach David Merritt. He gets the most he can out of the secondary – and he can be heard doing so throughout camp practices. He also loves versatile players – guys that can play corner as well as safety, (as Fewell’s defense plays much nickel and dime) but can also help in run support. Barring damage to this unit again, the competition level at this position may be somewhat friendly, but will put forth the best players to cover the back end.
Taking a look at who is going up SUNY at Albany:
S Antrel Rolle has grown into his position with blue and had it finally come together once he bonded in a deep conversation with Fewell:
“…from that point on I never saw the game about me. I never saw the game about anything having to deal with me. I saw the game about my teammates, I saw the game most of all about Coach Coughlin, and I saw the game most of all about Deon Grant…”
“The defensive coordinator is more consistent with his calls and we are very comfortable with what he’s calling. We go out to win the games very smoothly. We’ve been very sharp in our technique, our adjustment. Even when things go as planned, we are flying around, we are hustling to the ball, and when we go to the ball great things happen…” he said while mid-playoff run.
S Kenny Phillips is ‘Trel’s partner and most of the time, the single high. He “gets it” back there.
S Tyler Sash will continue on Special Teams and now step in more that Deon Grant isn’t returning.
FS Chad Jones – the inspiring story has been more of a reality as he entered Timex in April. He’s sure to get some tear-jerking cheers at training camp and most eyes will be on him for the first few days.
CB Terrell Thomas re-signed before free agency started (four-year, 28 million). His health is priority, but all signs point to the positive. His communication skills were missed in 2011.
CB Corey Webster is a constant at corner. No competition here.
CB Prince Amukamara hurt his foot in early August, but had early flashes of brilliance over-shadowed by the times he got beat. Only way to move is up.
Depth/ nickel/ ST players: DB Bruce Johnson (re-signed and coming off a torn Achilles), CB Michael Coe, CB Antwaun Molden (depth/camp body), DB Justin Tryon (was about to seriously gel and breakout in Fewell’s defense until he fractured his wrist – and continued to play), DB Chris Horton (more of a ST guy that can flash), CB Brian Witherspoon (ST/return – depending on how knee is).
Coughlin on 3rd Round Draft pick CB Jayron Hosley:
“…very competitive, feisty guy with 12 career interceptions. He’s also a punt returner. He’s a physical tackler. He is a competitive guy who many times is matched up on the opponent’s best receiver. Whether it’s the physical aspect of the game, the coming up in run support, the competitiveness in the press position, whether he’s playing from off and just playing the ball in the air. This guy does have outstanding hands and has been able to convert that concept into many interceptions… he also has the potential to be a punt returner. We like him for our special teams aspect also. He’s played the gunner. He can play various kickoff coverages…We feel like we can accomplish a lot with this kind of an athlete. He’s not the biggest guy in the world… we do think he is a competitive, feisty guy and he’s one of those people that has not backed down from anybody. Played against some outstanding receivers in his career and did an outstanding job…”
And finally: CB Brandon Bing, S Stevie Brown, S JoJo Nicolas, FS Janzen Jackson as long shots/ practice squad possibilities.
This should be a great area to keep a close eye on as many of the talented, fallen soldiers that couldn’t contribute to a World Championship are back.
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