The running anecdote of “Where ‘Trel at?” may very well become defunct this season. With health and key players (see: #24) coming back into the Giants secondary, the talk of safety Antrel Rolle moving back to his natural position to make plays has already been alluded to by Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell.
"We have a backup plan in case he [Terrell Thomas] is not ready," Fewell said. "But he is heavily in our plans. We have to wait until Albany to see which plan we go with. Like anything that we try to do, we have a Plan A and a Plan B, and he is in the Plan A."
Before it’s brought up that Thomas is slated to be starter at cornerback (not nickel), remember what he brought to the table as that starting corner—as well as what was missing in 2011 on that side. Rolle played just two games at his natural safety position in 2011. With T2 lost for the season (during preseason) to a torn ACL, Rolle had been asked to fill holes at nickel corner; this, in turn, affected his play-making ability. At times, his frustration showed, but #26 always self-reflected. Even two years ago, Rolle recognized the need to improve.
"So when I have more time to myself, I'm going to be able to put in my mind, ‘Look, you're going to have to be able to do this, do this, do this, do that,' " he said. "Next year will definitely be a better season for me. I've always been a climber. I've never been a person that declined. I'll look to get better."
In 2010, Rolle made 87 tackles, had one interception, four passes defensed, a forced fumble and two recoveries. Throw in a shared sack. In ’11, his stats improved to 96 tackles, a forced fumble, two interceptions and another four passes defensed—all career bests. Since he took leadership (with Deon Grant) of the defensive backfield, there was marked improvement—albeit late in the season and into the post-season. Safeties coach, Dave Merritt noticed that when Antrel spoke out, things changed.
"In my opinion, that was the pivotal moment for us," said Giants secondary coach David Merritt, in January of this year. "That's when everybody came on board. Guys started analyzing themselves, and it helped we also became healthier."
Better things should be expected on the horizon if health remains on ‘Trel’s as well as Big Blue’s side. He’s already claimed that 2012’s defense is “stacked.” It would seem as though the Miami native has taken to the bright lights and big city—expecting more of himself as well as his future.
“I’m in the New York swing of things right now," Rolle said. “I can actually say New York is my second home. I can’t see anything being greater than being an athlete and playing in the brighter stage of New York. It’s something I’m definitely blessed to be in. I’m gonna try to capture it and appreciate it and ride it until the wheels fall off."
Anticipate this attitude bleeding even more so into the safety’s defensive teammates in training camp—where an infectious vibe floats around the practice fields in Albany—especially when the bonding and swagger-filled chant on three of “Deeeeeee-Beeeeeeeeeees!” is heard.
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