I had the chance to talk with Giants defensive back Aaron Ross this offseason, and he was obviously excited after a strong rookie season and winning the Super Bowl. The first-round pick out of Texas started nine games and finished with 42 tackles, three interceptions, nine passes defensed and one defensive touchdown.
Ross talked about the Giants' chances of repeating, the pressure Eli Manning is under and his thoughts on former Texas teammates Vince Young and Limas Sweed. Ross said he's going to miss playing with retired DE Michael Strahan because he made "my life a lot easier."
JE: How's your offseason going?
AR: It’s going good. It’s big since I’m not a rookie anymore.
JE: What was it like to win a Super Bowl as a rookie?
AR: The Super Bowl victory was amazing. It didn’t sink in until we got the rings. The ring justified all the praise we got and all the pats on the back. Winning the Super Bowl my first year was amazing.
JE: Did you really think you would beat the Patriots?
AR: There’s not one guy who didn’t believe we could win. We played them well the first matchup. We just felt like we matched up well with them.
AR: Those wide receivers are great. Every last one of them, from Moss to Welker to all the rest. Everybody was good out there, and the quarterback is great. But we put pressure on the receivers and on Brady. And our front four was great.
JE: Did you guys figure out a formula to stop their offense?
AR: I don’t know how to stop them. Those guys are talented. It’s not easy. They only had one loss for a reason. We were lucky enough to get pressure on Brady by our front four. Our coaches had a great game plan.
JE: What was your rookie year like?
AR: The beginning of the year I was like a lost duck. I was trying to find my way. Being a first-round pick, all eyes were on me, and it was a lot of pressure. It didn’t really calm down until Week 5. It was a lot to learn with trying to play nickel and corner at the same time. As the year went on I started loving my rookie year.
JE: How's the defense going to look this year?
AR: The defense is looking good. We’ve had some solid practices and we’re executing better because it’s the same system from last year. Our main focus now is execution and just getting better.
JE: Eli Manning played well down the stretch in 2007 and in the playoffs. How will he do in 2008?
AR: I think there’s going to be a lot more pressure on him. Now that he won a Super Bowl, the standards are higher. People are going to expect him to play every game like he did during the Super Bowl run. Now he’s got to improve on what he did last year and do it again.
JE: Could you imagine being Eli and the pressure he faces?
AR: I can’t. I couldn’t fill his shoes. In New York, they love you one day and hate you the next. He handles it well. He’s the best guy for the job.
JE: You faced some of the best receivers in the NFL last year. Who was the toughest?
AR: Oh man, I couldn't name them all. They were all good. Santana Moss, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, T.O. The list goes on and on.
JE: What's it like to cover T.O.?
AR: It’s hard. He’s a big guy that runs well. And he’s strong. Coach has to put in a great game plan for me to be successful. It’s hard to guard a guy like that. There has to be a great game plan and lots of film study.
JE: What's your mindset when you face an elite receiver?
AR: If you know you’re going against the best, you have to do extra film study, spend time going over the game plan, study your opponent. It’s tough. You have to be on your P’s and Q’s.
JE: How do you think WR Limas Sweed will do in his rookie season with the Steelers?
AR: I hope he does really well except against us. He runs well. He’s big. He’s strong. He runs good routes. He can jump. He has all the tools. He just has to get in there and work and want to be successful.
JE: Is QB Vince Young ready to take the next step in his third year?
AR: All I know is he got better every year at Texas. He can beat you with his legs, and when you think he can’t throw, he’ll hit you for a 300-yard game. The sky’s the limit for Vince. He has an amazing arm. In college, I felt like I was watching a video game. It still feels that way some time.