After shaking up the Giants' defense to good effect with two key lineup changes on the defensive line last week, coach Tom Coughlin might have one more change up his sleeve for Sunday night's game against Philadelphia. Cornerback Aaron Ross worked well at safety in the nickel defense against Dallas, and Coughlin seems ready to consider expanding Ross' role.
Asked if Ross can handle more, Coughlin said, "Maybe if we gave him more. We'll see.''
The third-year player lost his starting job while recovering from a serious hamstring injury, but he adjusted well enough at safety to make a big fourth-down stop against Cowboys running back Marion Barber.
"He was in a great position and jumped up to make the tackle before the runner actually got going,'' Coughlin said. "That was a very good sign.''
Good enough that Ross might replace Michael Johnson in the starting lineup. Johnson is listed as questionable with a groin injury, but he practiced Friday and said, "I'm going to play.''
But with so much on the line against the Eagles, who beat the Giants, 40-17, on Nov. 1 with a series of big plays, Ross' speed and coverage ability are what the Giants need to play centerfield for the defense.
"It's looking good,'' a smiling Ross said after practice. "I'm getting more snaps each week. I'm not sure if I'm starting or not this week.''
Describing his role against the Eagles, Ross added, "In their type of offense, they don't like to nickel-and-dime you. They like to get big plays. Coach has been telling me all week to just stay deep and don't give up the big plays. That's my job.''
Ross said he has learned to play free safety and strong safety and to call the proper coverage for whatever side he's on. The hardest adjustment, he said, "is just knowing the alignment and knowing where I'm supposed to stand. I know my responsibility, but I have to know where to stand to disguise the defense.''
Next season, Ross would like to return to cornerback, but for now, he'll sacrifice. "Taking one for the team,'' Ross said. "Perfect words.''