Excerpt: "Antrel Rolle is ready and willing to play his new old role.
The veteran safety, who began his NFL career as a cornerback, found himself back in coverage in Sunday’s rout of the Packers. And while Rolle has long said he enjoys playing safety, he didn’t mind the move.
“One thing I like more than safety and my own goals is winning,” Rolle said. “So whatever it takes to win, that is what I am going to do. I like the role.”
Rolle said on his WFAN radio interview on Tuesday that he is back home in Miami “getting some treatment on my knee.” And when he returns, he just may find himself in a hybrid role again, because it worked incredibly well last Sunday.
Veteran Kenny Phillips, the Giants’ most reliable deep cover man, returned in that game after a six-game absence due to a sprained MCL, and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell desperately wanted all three of his play-making safeties — Phillips, Rolle and interception machine Stevie Brown — in action. So he used them all, relying heavily on a three-safety defense to flummox Aaron Rodgers.
The Giants have used three safeties in seasons past, but never like this. Rolle, Phillips and Brown were on the field together for every play of Green Bay’s first two possessions, and the three-safety, two-linebacker set was the regular defense, until Phillips reaggravated his MCL in the fourth quarter.
Phillips did not return, although Tom Coughlin said the injury was “not anything new,” and Phillips said on ESPN Radio on Tuesday that he “absolutely can play” against Washington.
A healthy Phillips likely means Rolle will continue to move around.
Against Green Bay, while Brown and Phillips handled deep responsibilities, Rolle routinely covered the dangerous Randall Cobb. After entering the game with six TDs in four games, Cobb was held to four catches.
“I thought he reacted very well to that spot,” Coughlin said of Rolle.
Rolle’s versatility is just one wrinkle on defense. LB Mathias Kiwanuka saw action at defensive tackle and defensive end. Justin Tuck served as a stand-up pass rusher, and on one play, Fewell used four safeties, adding rookie Will Hill. All those tricks baffled Rodgers, who turned in his second-lowest QB rating this season (81.9). Those tactics should also be useful against the likes of Robert Griffin III (Week 13), Drew Brees (Week 14) and Matt Ryan (Week 15.) The three-safety look can be key and Rolle knows it.
“I just keep my eyes open and keep myself flexible within this defense,” Rolle said. “Because I know things can change at any sudden point.” Read more...