Although safety Deon Grant was a starter for the New York Giants in last year's Super Bowl, General Manager Jerry Reese has so far decided not to bring back the 13 year veteran out of Tennessee for the upcoming season. Grant was a veteran leader on the field; and even took on the role as defensive signal caller while Michael Boley was injured last season. However, father time takes his toll on everyone, and Deon Grant is no exception.
With Grant most likely out of the picture, many have speculated that we have seen the last of Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell's innovative three safety packages. However, Fewell disputes this notion. He recently stated the following:
"We are just going to wait and see," Fewell said. "Obviously, we like that particular package, and we don't want to lose that package. We think that is valuable for us. But with the additions of these linebackers that we have, we can be a little bit more creative, we think. And so we just have to find out who goes where, who can learn the best, and then we will take it from there."
Last season, the three safety package was used mainly because of a rash of injuries in the secondary. With no true nickel corner, the team had no choice but to put Antrel Rolle in man coverage against slot receivers. This necessitated having another free safety to put on the field and take on Rolle's traditional pass coverage responsibilities. Deon Grant was more than serviceable in filling that need.
This season, however, there is considerable depth in the secondary. Cornerback's Prince Amukamara, Jayron Hosley, Justin Tryon, and Antwuan Molden are all competing for roster spots; and it is more than likely that one of them will be used as a nickel cornerback. We could even see one of them moved to safety. Furthermore, do not be surprised to see second year player Tyler Sash take a step forward this season.
Needless to say, Perry Fewell will have a lot of options in the defensive backfield throughout the 2012 campaign. The influx of healthy defensive backs, as well as having a more experienced and athletic linebacker core will enable him to be extremely creative in utilizing personnel. While it is hard to see how Big Blue would still use the three safety look, it has been effective in the past. Therefore, look for Perry Fewell to find creative ways to utilize three safeties at the same time on the defensive side of the ball this season; however, do not expect to see it used in the same fashion as it was in 2011.
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