New York Giants cornerback Aaron Ross may have taken a "paid vacation" to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars during the 2012 season, but that doesn't mean Ross stopped paying attention to how his former teammates in New York were performing.
Last offseason, Ross left the Giants to sign a three-year, $9.75 million contract with the Jaguars. However, after starting just nine games, Jaguars general manager David Caldwell sent Ross packing at the start of free-agency. Just four days later, Ross was re-signed by the Giants, the organization he affectionately refers to as his "home."
Ross says that after winning a Super Bowl in 2011, it was extremely difficult for him to not make the playoffs with the Jaguars last season. However, after getting back into the Giants locker room for voluntary offseason workouts, he believes that each player on the roster is hungry to make another playoff run in 2013.In particular, Ross said that teammate Corey Webster, who played the majority of 2012 with a broken hand and a fairly serious hamstring injury, will improve significantly upon his performance this season.
"[Corey Webster] will bounce back this year," Ross said. "He's been getting a lot of bad criticism, but I didn't really see him have a horrible year. He'll be alright."
In 2012, Webster allowed quarterbacks to gain 988 yards on passes thrown his way, which was the third-highest total of any starting cornerback in the NFL. Due to his performance, the Giants forced Webster to cut his 2013 salary from $7 million to $4 million, a deal that the team felt better represented his market value. By bringing back Ross and re-signing Terrell Thomas, the Giants now have five cornerbacks on the roster with starting experience.
Ross, who was a starter on the Giants' 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl championship teams, says regardless of who starts this season, the team is going to benefit from its newfound experience at the cornerback position.
"The league is changing and you need four or five good DB's on the field at one time," Ross said. "I'm sure all of us are going to get our playing time. It's just something that we're gonna have to live with. If you start, go out there and do your job. If you're not, come in and be the best role player you can be."
Although the Giants had the opportunity to select a cornerback in the early rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft, the team instead elected to strengthen itself along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football. By selecting offensive tackle Justin Pugh and defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins with the the team's first two picks of the draft, the Giants have virtually assured themselves that there will be no significant relief coming to assist the league's 28th ranked passing defense from a year ago.
Regardless, Ross says that it's going to be up to the players currently on the roster to step-up and improve as a team in 2013.
"I think we need to be more consistent," Ross said. "There were games I was watching last year where guys had great games, and there were games sometimes where it just looked like it broke down. So I just think that if we be a little more consistent this year, we'll be alright."
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