Signing nickel cornerback Walter Thurmond III makes sense for Giants

Giants defensive back Walter Thurmond III is shown
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Giants defensive back Walter Thurmond III is shown on the set of his movie "Chapter and Verse" during filming in Harlem on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014.(Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy)

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Sixty million.

That's how many nickels it will take for the Giants to pay Walter Thurmond III in 2014. And if he turns out to be the only nickel they need in their secondary, he will be worth every one of them.

For years the Giants have tried to cram outside cornerbacks or safeties into the slot. The addition of Thurmond, signed as a free agent from the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, gives the team a true nickel cornerback for that position.

"It seems like he was born for that," Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said of Thurmond's position. "If you look at the practices and games, every time he is in the game, you hear Coach saying, 'Look at Walt. Walt is doing this and that.' He fits there and he understands the game. He plays hard."

In the past, players sometimes saw being the nickel cornerback as a demotion. It was for former starters who had lost a step. With NFL offenses using three or four receivers more often now and the evolution of the true slot receiver, nickel has become as much a starting position as outside cornerback.

"He's definitely top tier at what he does, and I consider myself in the tops at what I do," said receiver Victor Cruz, who has gone against Thurmond throughout training camp. "To have that battle each and every day at practice is great. It's great for our mentality, it's great for our confidence to go up against each other. We know that if we can do some good things against each other, we'll have some success when the season starts."

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Thurmond may bring a lot of boom on the field, but he is known as a more quiet player among the defensive backs. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell calls Thurmond "The Quiet Assassin."

"Boy, I like him in the slot," Fewell said. "It's the 'it' factor. People try to describe 'it.' He's got 'it.' He knows how to play that position."

Said safety Antrel Rolle, "He's a guy that wants to be the best. You go out there and ask him, 'Who's the best nickel back in the game?' and he's going to say himself. But if you ask him if he's satisfied with being nickel, he's going to tell you no. That's the kind of attitude we need and the kind of player we need on the field with us at all times.''

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