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Rolle wants to be a leader of Giants' defense

Antrel Rolle of the Arizona Cardinals greets his

Antrel Rolle of the Arizona Cardinals greets his team mascot during the 2010 Pro Bowl at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. (Jan. 31, 2010) Photo Credit: Getty/Scott Halleran

Antrel Rolle will wear No. 26 for the Giants. Whether he gets that little patch on the shoulder to signify he's a captain remains to be seen.

Branded with a "C'' or not, Rolle made it clear that he'll be a leader on the Giants' defense.

"No question about that," he said Saturday in a conference call about 12 hours after he signed a five-year, $37-million contract with the Giants. "I think that [leadership] just comes natural. I think that's just a part of who I am.

"I don't want anyone to name me a leader," he added. "I don't want anyone to pinpoint what I'm going to bring to a team. I think it's just something that has to come naturally. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, then it doesn't. Knowing myself and knowing what kind of competitor I am and what kind of player I am, I think I will definitely be a great fit for this organization and with this team."

The Giants certainly hope so, and they have visions of Rolle and Kenny Phillips roaming the secondary in new coordinator Perry Fewell's turnover-focused schemes. In fact, they had those visions even before Rolle was released by the Cardinals on Thursday.

"We knew we wanted him before that," Tom Coughlin said. "We had done the research on him prior to [it], just speculating that perhaps something might take place there. So the research was already done."

The only thing left was to land the safety. And they felt they had. But when the Cardinals matched the Giants' offer Friday, it was up to Rolle to decide where to play. He called it one of the toughest of his life.

"It came down to did I want to become a Giant or did I want to stay an Arizona Cardinal," Rolle said. "For the most part, when I came here yesterday to visit the New York Giants, it reminded me of a feeling I once had when I went to visit the University of Miami when I was being recruited at the collegiate level. I just felt like I was at home here."

He made himself at home at Giants Stadium last year when he and the Cardinals visited. He had a key interception to seal the win for Arizona and made several other key plays. That performance was a topic of conversation when Rolle met with the Giants on Friday.

"I think that played a big part in the reason why I'm here," he said. "It's obviously something that stood out in their minds, something that I'm pretty sure they watched over and over again before making such a huge decision to bring me in as a New York Giant."

On that interception, Rolle said the Cardinals were supposed to be in Cover-2, but he "tweaked" it himself. "Sometimes you have to take a gamble, you have to take a chance," he said.

Now he'll be rolling the dice for the Giants, a team that had one of the worst defensive seasons in franchise history in 2009. Rolle thinks he can do more than tweak that, too.

"A couple of things went in the wrong direction," he said of last season's Giants defense. "That's where leadership comes into play. That's a role I'm looking forward to having with this unit. I'm going to make sure I lead by example. It's not going to be talk, I'm going to lead by example. I tell my guys to follow my lead, match my intensity. And that's what I'm going to bring to the table."

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