Whenever defensive coordinator Perry Fewell wants to tease defensive back Antrel Rolle, or put him in his place, or just draw a smile from the Giants' only Pro Bowl player from a season ago, he knows what he has to do.
"I say, 'I'm going to put you back at nickel,'" Fewell said.
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That's enough to shake the unshakable Rolle because for the last few years he has lived half his life as a safety and half as a slot cornerback. It's something Rolle has come to expect, even though every summer he starts out at just the one position. Then a cornerback gets hurt and next thing you know Rolle is back down at the line of scrimmage face-guarding a receiver.
This year, though, promises to be different. The Giants bolstered their cornerback position so much that there are players who would have been starters for them a year ago who will likely have trouble making the 53-man roster. And most appealing to Rolle is the addition of Walter Thurmond III, a true nickel cornerback who plays the slot.
Fewell jokingly searched for wood to knock on when asked about Thurmond allowing Rolle to play safety the entire year. He finally tapped a reporter on the head for good luck.
"We feel confident in the development of Walter and we're trying to develop several other players so that we can allow Antrel to play that safety position," he said.
That would not only make Rolle happy, it should make him better.
"We're giving him all the reps back there," Fewell said. "He uses the term, 'I'm getting my eyes back.' So he can now see the field instead of seeing down in the box and the perimeter. Now he sees the entire field. I think that's important for him to develop that to become as good as he can be as a safety."