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New York Giants’ Antrel Rolle Ready to Play Nickel Corner If Necessary

August 3rd, 2012 at 4:00 PM
By Paul Tierney

It is debatable how much New York Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas would have been able to contribute, even if healthy this season. Although his contract suggests that General Manager Jerry Reese brought him back to start, there is a long list of players who have suffered major knee injuries and returned to the field as shells of their former selves. Regardless, his status for this season is up in the air, and it has left Big Blue searching for someone to man the slot corner position that Thomas was expected to fill.

'Antrel Rolle' photo (c) 2012, Ted Kerwin - license:

For the majority of 2011, safety Antrel Rolle doubled as both a safety and  nickel cornerback. Although it was not his natural position, Rolle embraced the job and turned in a more than serviceable performance in 2011. However, prior to Thomas' injury, Antrel was looking forward to being able to focus solely on his responsibilities as a safety.

"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. 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." Rolle said.

Unfortunately, injuries are a seemingly everyday occurrence not just in the NFL, but also in the Giants defensive backfield. Although Rolle was brought to Big Blue to play safety, his versatility and previous experience at the cornerback position have proven to be invaluable to defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's defense.

Instead of having to insert an inexperienced, or a less talented player into a contributing role in the defensive backfield to replace an injured Terrell Thomas, Rolle will be able to fill the void serviceably. On Thursday, safeties coach Dave Merritt confirmed that the team is looking for Rolle to play in the slot.

"Two days ago, I went up to him and had a conversation with him and said, ‘Antrel, we’re going to put you down in the slot just like your position last year. Not saying it’s going to be permanent but we need you to get some reps there." Merritt said.

However, the ideal situation for the Giants would be for either Justin Tryon or Jayron Hosley to step up play in the slot. If either player performs well enough throughout the duration of training camp and preseason games, the team would surely prefer to let Rolle focus solely on his responsibilities at safety.

Rolle's size and above-average athleticism make him an invaluable presence in the middle of the field. His ability to take great angles on both rushing and passing plays enable him to make plays on the ball consistently throughout the course of the game. Putting him at the nickel cornerback limits his ability to do what he's good at.

Furthermore, if Rolle is going to play nickel corner in 2012, the need to find a third safety becomes more apparent. With the suspension of Tyler Sash, the only remaining safeties on the roster are undrafted rookie free agents Will Hill and Janzen Jackson. Although Will Hill's athleticism has dramatically improved his candidacy, the return of 32 year old Deon Grant is also an option. While it would be ideal for some of the younger players to step up, Grants veteran leadership might not be a bad influence on the team.

Hopefully, Terrell Thomas can return this season and become a key contributor. However, in his absence, Jerry Reese has assembled a young, capable, and versatile group of defensive backs that are more the willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. It will be interesting to see where the team has Antrel Rolle line up as the season gets underway.


Tags: Antrel Rolle, Dave Merritt, Football, Jayron Hosley, Jerry Reese, Justin Tryon, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Perry Fewell, Terrell Thomas, Tyler Sash, Will Hill

30 Responses to “New York Giants’ Antrel Rolle Ready to Play Nickel Corner If Necessary”

  1.  LUZZ says:

    TOGM – Would I trade JPP for any other player in the NFL straight up? Gun to my head I would make the trade for Calvin Johnson straight up. However, not at CJ’s current contract. the contract CJ signed is going to cripple the Lions for years to come. But if the money were equal, CJ is the best player in the League. But, the truth is i don’t think either team would make that trade if asked.

    •  Samardzija says:

      I Detroit offered me that deal i wouldnt take it.

    •  kujo says:


      No f’n way. JPP could be a generational talent, hereas Megatron, while a total beast, would just be another excellent receiver on a team with several. I’d take Nicks, Cruz and JPP over Nicks, Cruz and CJ.

  2.  LUZZ says:

    We are lucky to have both Rolle and Phillips this season. I suspect the team will have to decide between one of the 2 of them next year. Either cut Rolle’s salary and work to sign Phillips or keep Rolle on his contract and wish phillips good luck in FA. I don’t see us with 2 highly paid safties with all of the big-time FAs we are going to have to pay on our roster.

    I really hope JPP and his agent don’t hold the Giants hostage when the time comes like Calvin Johnson did to the Lions. Lions have almost no chance to stock pile talent now. Their trips to the post season will be extremely limited now.

  3.  kujo says:

    Good to hear that Baas has looked good thus far. Gotta see it though. He got a mulligan for a multitude of reasons on last year’s strange offseason. I’m not sold on him yet, but he’s no turd.

    Boothe and Diehl, however, are trash garbage today, yesterday and tomorrow. The fact that we can’t do any better than these two at this moment in time is embarrassing. Worse yet, they’re going to be STARTERS?!?!?! Christ on a cross…can’t wait to see that donkey show!

  4. Anthony Raiaaxr29 says:

    It sounds more and more likely each day that Will Hill is probably going to get Sash’s spot, but well see how he fares in preseason. If Hill can live up to his hype that he got out of high school this secondary could be out of this world. It seems like he has finally matured.

    •  kujo says:

      No way bro. Did you read Coughlin’s statements about Sash? Dude isnt going anywhere. Coughlin has him pegged as one of his guys, and suspension or not, he’ll be on this team. And I suspect he’ll more than prove his worth during the preseason games anyway.

    •  Luv2Salsa says:

      I can’t see them going into the first four games with only KP, ‘Trel and Hill. Hill makes sense as the “keeper” of the present crop at camp. He’s probably got too much talent to let go and might turn into the special team assassin the team desperately needs. He might be too raw, though, to sub for Phillips or Rolle should that be necessary. I could see them waiving Chris Horton on cut-down day, and then re-signing him after he clears waivers. He’s one of those trash heap guys who’s played enough that he might be relied upon in a pinch. Then in week five if they really like Sash, they could keep him and waive Horton.

  5.  Krow says:

    In other news … it seems Tim Tebow is dyslexic. Which means that all this time he’s been praying to ‘dog’.

  6.  LUZZ says:

    Kujo – You are underestimating Calvin Johnson’s talent. he is a once in a generational player for sure. I’m not sure how much of him you have watched, but he’s the best WR in the NFL by a significant margin.

    Is it a no brainer trade? no way. However, if you gave me a straight up trade for the best DE in the league and the best WR in the league, it would be a close call.

    Honestly, I think as we see more 6’7 bastketball players move over to football, we’ll see more players like JPP in the next 4 or 5 years. However, talents like Calvin Johnson will be less frequent.

    Look – I’m a Giant fan, i love JPP! But I see CJ for what he is – the best player in the league.

    •  kujo says:


      I have seen a lot of Calvin Johnson. I’ve had him on at least 1 fantasy team every year that he’s been in the league. He’s a beast, certainly the best WR in the league. But is he the best PLAYER? No f’n way. And would I trade JPP for him? Hell no. We have 2 excellent WRs already, along with 2 or 3 guys who could easily ascend to that status in the coming years.

  7.  The Original G Man says:

    Maybe Revis or Willis. *MAYBE* (but probably not)

    •  kujo says:

      No thanks to Revis. I’ll take an elite pass rusher over an elite corner any day.

      And Willis? Child please!

  8.  LUZZ says:

    Revis – maybe, Willis – no

  9.  rlhjr says:

    CJ for JPP? Kind of hard to get the ball down field to CJ with your QB either on his back, or running for his life. JPP hands down, especially in this day and age of pass happy NFL. Cant think of a sole I’d trade the kid for. JPP makes every QB think about how long he wont have to throw the ball. He’s in their heads.
    That is 100 percent LT ish. And it still works well.

    He is still learning, and our defensive mind trust has yet to figure out that he can rush the passer from either side and up the middle standing up, or with a hand in the dirt. WAKE UP FEWELL, YOU HAVE LT 2.0 AND HAVE NO CLUE HOW TO USE HIM…………..HELLOOOOOOO………???

  10.  LUZZ says:

    Kujo – I’m not really taking our current WRs into the equation. I’m looking at the whole thing as a hypothetical. Who’s the best player in the league?

    I really think that as more marginal 6’8 and 6’9 basketball players that have some beef (and believe me there are tons of them) realize they could become a TE or DE in the NFL, we’ll see more guys like JPP.

    CJ with his size, hands, speed, jumping ability, and demeanor, will be far more rare.

    •  kujo says:

      I think YOU are undervaluing JPP’s unique combination of tangibles and intangibles. His size and speed are freakish, obviously. But you can’t just throw a basketball player onto a defensive line or into the tight end meeting room and expect the sort of unique results we are witnessing out of JPP. He’s got *it* that magical x-factor that you can neither teach or replicate. With almost ZERO quality coaching or instruction, he has lit up some of the best left tackles in the league. His skills are improving at an alarming rate because he’s finally got great coaches and peer mentors around him, as well as real experience. But his baseline was sky high because of raw desire and ability.

      Dude is a beast. Could be GOAT material.

      •  Eric S says:

        Luzz, you’re certifiable dude. Calvin Johnson is not the best player in the league. I wouldn’t trade Eli Manning straight up for CJ. Or JPP. CJ has been in the NFL 5 years now. Detroit has had one winning season in that time (last year) in which they were a one and done wild card team.

        CJ’s 16 game average: 77.1 receptions/ 1236.2 yds/ 16ypc/ 10.32 tds
        Nicks 16 game average: 77 receptions/ 1155.8/ 15ypc/ 9.14 tds

        You’re way overrating CJ’s production value.

        •  Eric S says:

          As to your basketball player theory, I’m not buying it. Tony Gonzalez started the trend of looking for hoopsters who could transition, Gates who’s entering his 10th season continued it. Other than that there haven’t been many guys make the transition as you would suggest. Jimmy Graham being the most recent example. 3 guys over the past 16 years. NFL history is littered with athletic freaks who were worthless on the football field.

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