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Tag:Deon Grant
Posted on: September 22, 2011 11:04 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Biggest surprises

Wade Phillips has revitalized Houston's defense (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Every year, it’s easy to predict how some teams and players will perform. For instance, this year it was easy to see that the Patriots were going to be awesome, the Colts were going to struggle without Peyton Manning, and some unheralded running back somewhere would surprise everyone with his fantastic performances (Houston’s Ben Tate for example, playing in place of last year’s unheralded/awesome running back Arian Foster).

But, as always, there have been some major surprises through the first two weeks that virtually nobody could see coming. Which is why we follow sports (and the NFL, in particular) in the first place. It’d be boring if we knew everything. But the fact we didn’t know just HOW terrible the Colts would be without Manning is what makes watching pro football a good time.

Therefore, this week, we introduce the Top 10 with a Twist list of the players and teams who have surprised us the most in the first two weeks of the season. No Tom Brady mentions in here. Instead, we give you Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jimmy Clausen's replacement.

10. Redskins: Remember how we all laughed at Rex Grossman when he proclaimed he thought that Washington would win the NFC East? Well, look at which squad is at the top of that division. That would be the Redskins at 2-0, ahead of the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys. It’s because Grossman has played well, running back Tim Hightower has had a resurgence and the Redskins rank No. 6 in points allowed (they were No. 21 last season). Hey, maybe, in addition to being a pretty decent quarterback, Grossman is quite the soothsayer. 

9. Dunta Robinson: I have to admit that I was shocked that the NFL fined the Falcons cornerback only $40,000 after his egregious case of head-hunting against Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin last Sunday night. You’ll recall Robinson was fined $50,000 the first time he was caught head-hunting last season (that figure was reduced to $25,000), and though the NFL will say this case was different and less severe, I don’t buy it. We called on the NFL to suspend Robinson, and I didn’t think we’d see that. But I didn’t think we’d see less of a punishment than the first time he went helmet to helmet. Though we live in a time when Roger Goodell’s disciplinary decisions oftentimes don’t make sense, this was a shocker.

8. Bills: It’s only been a few years since the Bills started a season 2-0, but could you tell me the last time Buffalo started the season 2-0 and then finished with a winning record? You’d have to go all the way back to 1996, so obviously, the Bills aren’t going to start celebrating anything quite yet. But the way quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to play (which, in itself, is a shocker) and the way running back Fred Jackson continues to pile up yards and the way coach Chan Gailey continues to turn around this team, it’s well … a little surprising. And it’s gotten them into first place in the AFC East (well, they’re tied with the Jets and the Patriots, but the Bills alphabetically are at the top of the division, so there’s that).

Johnson7. Kenny Britt: Yes, we knew Kenny Britt had talent, but we didn’t know he’d explode like this after his rather interesting offseason. So far, he’s recorded 14 catches for 271 yards and three touchdowns, and considering, in his best season before this one, he totaled 42 receptions and 775 yards, this is looking like a breakout year for him. Now if he only can stop getting arrested in the offseason …

6. Chris Johnson: You might find this selection strange, considering I placed Johnson in last week’s list -- the top-10 candidates for comeback player of the year. But after a Week 1 in which he was underused (only nine carries), Johnson ran for 53 yards on 24 chances last week. Which means that for a player whose stated goal is to break the 2,000-yard mark again hasn’t even cracked the 100-yard mark for the entire season. Considering he just signed a $54 million contract, his output has been rather disappointing. Maybe we shouldn’t have been so surprised. Johnson did, after all, hold out from training camp. But Johnson has been so good in his career, the fact he’s been so underwhelming is a little off-putting.

5. Chiefs: How do you go from winning the AFC West crown to being absolutely horrible the next year? How do you go from being pretty decent last year to being absolutely atrocious now? Some injuries (Tony Moeaki, Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry), some in-fighting between general manager Scott Pioli and coach Todd Haley (supposedly) and some brutal defense. Whatever the cause, Kansas City has been outscored 89-10 combined by the Bills and the Lions. Considering the Packers, the Steelers, the Chargers (twice), the Patriots, the Bears and the Jets still are on the schedule, the Chiefs might be in for a colonoscopy of a year.

4. Cam Newton: People were split about how Newton would affect the Panthers this season. Some thought he’d be terrible (I’m guilty, as charged). Some thought he would excite the masses in Charlotte with his on-field play and his off-field charisma. But nobody really knew for sure. Remember, about a month ago, we thought Jimmy Clausen might beat out Newton for the starting job (gosh, we were so naïve back then, eh?). But even those who thought he’d be a solid quarterback have to be taken aback by these numbers: a 62.7 completion percentage, 854 passing yards, three scores (we’ll ignore the four interceptions so far) and the record for most passing yards in a pro debut and most passing yards by a rookie. Sure, the Panthers are 0-2, but Newton has been pretty incredible.

3. Bill Belichick: Who would have guessed the Patriots coach would ever allow anybody to film his life for a documentary? The first episode of A Football Life: Bill Belichick on NFL Network was an interesting look at the best coach in the league and what he’s like in the meeting room, the locker room and, interestingly enough, on a boat in Nantucket. Belichick comes off like a cold-blooded SOB around the media, but in this documentary -- the second part of which will air Thursday, and supposedly, he really shows his emotions in that episode -- you can see the guy is actually human. And considering Belichick would be the 32nd NFL coach who I ever believed would agree to something like this, it’s a pleasant surprise.

2. Faking injuries: Did anybody think this stuff wasn’t happening before? Just because Deon Grant might have been faking an injury to slow down the Rams’ no-huddle, hurry-up offense  last Sunday (Grant, by the way, takes GREAT offense that you’d even think so), that’s not to say this tactic hasn’t been used for many, many years. It has; it’s usually just not so obvious. In fact, you can read this brief article from the NY Times in which the Bengals ask the league to look at players faking injuries. That article, by the way, is from 1989.

1. Wade Phillips: He wasn’t the most-respected head coach (I think the second season of Hard Knocks with the Cowboys gave the impression he was kind of a bumbling Texan who let people walk all over him), but as a defensive coordinator, he’s done a wonderful job in Houston. Since changing Gary Kubiak’s defense to a 3-4 and since the team signed Danieal Manning and Johnathan Joseph in the secondary, Phillips has helped Houston become the top defense in the league, allowing 10 points and 271 yards per game (both rank No. 1 in the NFL). Who would have thought that after last season when the Texans secondary was burned in just about every game they played? Phillips, though he might never get another head coaching job, is saving somebody else’s job right now. We knew Phillips would be good. We didn’t think he’d be this good, this soon.

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Posted on: September 21, 2011 6:39 pm
 

Deon Grant defends himself, says he wasn't faking

Grant

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

You think Giants safety Deon Grant was faking his injury Monday night in order to slow down the Rams no-huddle offense? Well, color Grant offended. Extremely offended.

"I want to ask a question: From the first time I touched the football field, how many games (have) I (missed)?" Grant said Wednesday via ESPN New York. "None, right? None. Now to this day I got two torn MCLs. I just had wrist surgery two years ago. I had a hole in my labrum and a torn rotator cuff. I (haven't) missed (any) games."

Grant also made sure to point out that he’s played 162 out of 162 games since he entered the league in 2001.

"I went out one play," Grant said. "I got banged up, and went right back in and finished the game -- (just like I have) every game for my career. My whole thing is when (do) you know (if) somebody faking an injury? ... I'm not no duck or no dummy. I'm not about to be going out there banging myself up like they do in the movies.

Was Grant faking?
"You look at my knees now, do you see this knee (my right one), this knee is smaller than that one (my left one)? You see the bang up, right?"

OK, but what about the fact you and Jacquian Williams looked like you were doing some kind of synchronized dance when the two of you went to the turf at the same time? Grant counters by claiming that he banged his knee on the play before and that he tried to play through it. But one play later, he knew he needed a breather.

"As I was walking, they lined up knowing I couldn't get back into my position because of the injury, so I went down. It just so happened Jacquain -- he was catching a cramp at the same time -- and he went down.

"I went out (and) came back in. I've been doing that my whole career. But you go and check my medical report. I (have) the injuries to speak for it. Two torn MCLs I never had surgery on. Wrist surgery. Shoulder surgery. (A) broken hip with a metal plate with screws in it, so I don't fake nothing. How can another person that's not in your body tell you when you're faking an injury?"

While he makes a good point -- nobody outside the Giants locker room and those Rams players within earshot Monday night -- knows if Grant was injured one minute and then miraculously healed the next or if he was truly faking.

And while I appreciate Grant’s passionate defense, nobody is questioning Grant’s toughness. Nobody, from what I can tell, is calling him a pansy because he would fake an injury when New York’s defense was in so much flux. We’re questioning his tactics and the Giants’ ethics in allegedly endorsing such a move.

We’re not saying Grant isn’t a tough SOB. We’re saying, at that moment, he might have helped his team the only way he could. By falling to the turf and acting like he was injured when he wasn’t to force a stoppage in play to halt the whirlwind.

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Posted on: September 21, 2011 11:16 am
Edited on: September 21, 2011 11:47 am
 

Rams to file complaint against Giants for faking

Posted by Will Brinson



On Monday night, Giants defenders Deon Grant and Jacquian Williams did their best hit-by-a-bowling-ball impersonation in order to slow down Sam Bradford and the Rams offense as they ran roughshod over New York with their no-huddle offense.

Everyone who watched the game -- whether you were there like Mike Freeman or just checking out the acting on television like me -- believed the Giants were faking the injuries. The Rams obviously feel the same way, and are going to file a complaint with the NFL office.

"That'll go on the list of things we're going to send in," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "I think the league is looking into it. I'll let it run its course from that point of view."

NFL VP of Communications Greg Aiello recently said said that teams could face punishments for faking, but only if said faking could be proved.

"The Competition Committee deprecates feigning injuries, with subsequent withdrawal, to obtain a timeout without penalty," Aiello said in an email to Freeman. "Coaches are urged to cooperate in discouraging this practice. If a player or club admits to it, the action would be subject to discipline."

Unless, you now, there's actually audio of what Bradford claims to have heard before the "injuries."

"They couldn't get subbed, they couldn't line up," Bradford said. "Someone said, 'Someone go down, someone go down,' so someone just went down and grabbed a cramp."

One would think, given the way the NFL meticulously catalogues the action on the field for NFL Films, and given that this was a primetime game, that if a Giants player yelled "someone go down" it would be pretty easy to prove.

As noted several times over the past two days, there's nothing new about faking injuries in football. But that doesn't mean the league should just stand by and wait to until something happens in a key situation to alter the outcome of a game before changing the rules.

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Posted on: September 20, 2011 12:01 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 12:09 pm
 

Should the NFL fine players who fake injuries?

Posted by Will Brinson



On Monday night, the Rams got pummeled pretty bad in New York (28-16, though it didn't feel that close). But the Giants weren't rolling the entire game. In fact, early in the first quarter, Josh McDaniels put the pedal to the floor and had the Rams running a no-huddle offense that absolutely gassed out the Giants defenders.

The result was, as you can see above, what appears to be a classic case of faking an injury to stop the clock. Now, I don't want to sound like a jerk and call out Deon Grant and Jacquian Williams ... but I will anyway, and I won't be the first person, especially considering that Jon Gruden was practically mocking them in the booth on Monday.

As he should have -- Grant and Williams looked like bowling pins as they hit the ground at the exact same time in a blatant attempt to slow Sam Bradford's march down the field.

This is a problem because, well, there's not much that officials on the field can do. The NFL certainly can't order referees to start flagging people they think are faking injuries. That goes against every single aspect of player safety that the league touts in today's game.

And faking injuries to slow down the pace of the game and/or halt momentum isn't something new either; it's been happening for a long time and in almost every sport, in case you forgot how Ghana managed to burn through clock against the US in the most recent World Cup. As Michael David Smith notes at Pro Football Talk, the NFL has a catch-all rule for "palpably unfair acts" but the league won't use that on faking injuries.

But the league should do something, and it wouldn't be hard to hit Williams and Grant with a fine, either.

"However, if a player demonstration constitutes taunting or unsportsmanlike conduct, or delays a game, a foul will be called, and a fine will be assessed," the NFL's memo to players and coaches regarding league discipline reads.

That passage is technically designed to cover excessive celebration penalties, but clearly the language therein ("delays a game") gives the league some wiggle room with which to fine anyone who fakes an injury in order to slow down the other team.

Now the league just needs to exercise that power.


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Posted on: November 6, 2010 10:38 pm
 

Hot Routes 11.06.10 interesting Randy Moss news

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit


According to Albert Breer of NFL Network, the Titans would not have claimed Randy Moss on waivers if not for the Kenny Britt injury.


Fitz calls trip to Minny a 'business trip'. (What else would it be? Oh, wait, he grew up in Minny, that’s right. Gotcha.)

Ravens might not see much Wildcat from Miami, but if they do, they've got 'a guy' who'll get them ready for it -- Curtis Steele, who ran the Wildcat in high school and at Memphis, which is totally the same as doing it in the NFL. 



The fellas at the Bills' blog Buffalo Rumblings are always on the lookout for quarterback prospects, and they make a good point: five of the best signal-calling prospects are on television Saturday (Andrew Luck, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Nick Foles and Ryan Mallett).



As everyone knows, if Bill Belichick even vaguely references Eric Mangini's team, he is taking a BIG-TIME CHEAP SHOT IN THE MEDIA at him. Like when he talks about the West Coast offense that the Browns are running.


No blackout for the Raiders this week! Not a joke. We repeat, No blackout for the Raiders this week!

Rex Ryan likes Vernon Gholston (and he also won’t try to convince us that the guy should have been the No. 6 overall pick).



In case you really don’t have a life, here’s our obligatory once-a-month link to a story about a long snapper. This one plays for the Rams.



Bucs LT Donald Penn believes he’s prepared to go up against Falcons speed-rushing demon John Abraham.



Don’t laugh: someone actually found a way to handout midseason awards for the 49ers.



When DeSean Jackson takes the field again (likely this Sunday vs. Atlanta), he’ll be wearing a bigger helmet (newer model).



Deon Grant shared with the Giants inside knowledge of his former Seahawks team. (Not sure how helpful he could be though, given that Seattle has a different coaching staff than it had when Grant played).


Have the Packers fixed their penalty woes?


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Posted on: August 17, 2010 12:14 am
 

NYJ and NYG answer some of our questions

(US Presswire) Posted by Josh Katzowitz

I know it’s the middle of training camp. I know it was a preseason exhibition that means absolutely nothing. But man, the Jets looked good. Man, the Jets looked like they could contend for a Super Bowl.

Ugh, I hate myself for writing something like that based on one measly preseason game in which the team I’m touting lost by 15 points. But the first-team offense, for the most part, looked very good – except when the Jets got to the red zone – and the defense, like last year, looked pretty nasty. They looked like a team that still could be playing in February.

If ….

If, that is, they get back Darrelle Revis. Because without Revis, New York might not be the Super Bowl team coach Rex Ryan thinks they can be. A virtual unknown WR named Victor Cruz made that pretty clear tonight during the Giants 31-16 win against the Jets.

Earlier today, we had three questions for each team entering tonight’s game. Let’s look at the answers (which are in bold.)

Jets

1) How will Kyle Wilson look? Without Darrelle Revis around, Wilson is sure to get looks with the first team. How he performs could affect the team’s negotiations with Revis. If Wilson looks completely competent, the Jets can afford (perhaps) to take their time with Revis. If he looks overmatched, maybe they’ll give Revis’ agent a quick phone call post-game. It wasn’t Wilson that looked overmatched. It was the rest of the secondary, minus Antonio Cromartie. We’ll get to him later, but Victor Cruz beat three different Jets CBs for touchdowns (Dwight Lowery, Drew Coleman and Marquice Cole). More than perhaps anybody else associated with these teams, Revis might have gained the most tonight. Except maybe for Cruz.

2) Can Mark Sanchez handle a more high-profile passing attack? Last year, Sanchez could allow his running game and his team’s defense to help him win games. This season, the Jets likely will allow him to test his arm a little more. We might get a few chances to see that tonight. Aside from the tipped INT on his first pass of the game – a throw into double coverage Sanchez shouldn’t have made – he was very impressive, completing 13 of 17 passes for 119 yards and a TD.

3) Does LaDainian Tomlinson still have it?
This obviously won’t be answered tonight. But if Hard Knocks is any indication – and that’s debatable – Tomlinson still has speed and the ability to make the big play (even while catching it out of the backfield). I imagine he’ll get some playing time tonight to see how he performs in a game-like atmosphere. Tomlinson played the entire first half and showed some bursts of speed that were exactly what the Jets wanted to see. Shonn Greene is still the starter – no question about that after blowing away the Giants defense – but Tomlinson looks like he has some fuel left in the tank. The 16-yard TD that was called back because of a hold was pretty exciting for Jets fans to behold.

V. Cruz had quite a night, catching three TD passes for the NYG (AP). Giants

1) Will the Giants defense be better than last year? It’d be tough to have been worse. As Clark Judge so astutely points out in his Giants camp report , the squad allowed 427 points last season, the most since 1966. To say that’s embarrassing is an understatement. Let’s see how new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s men perform. Not all that impressively actually. Sanchez pretty much accomplished whatever he wanted, and Greene gashed them for mid-sized gains. Plus, the personnel confusion on Sanchez’s TD pass to Brad Smith was embarrassing.

2) How will the Giants’ new additions on defense help? New York get safety Kenny Phillips back and the Giants have added LB Keith Bulluck, first-round pick DE Jason Pierre-Paul and safeties Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant. How will they all mesh? The Giants have added some veterans, but does that mean all of these players still have the ability to dominate on defense? Phillips and Bulluck didn’t play. Rolle and Grant were pretty good early. Pierre-Paul was, at times, dominated by Jets OT Damien Woody, but he managed to elude Woody with his speed late in the second quarter and sack Sanchez. Less than a minute later, though, Pierre-Paul was whistled for offsides.

3) How much will the Giants miss Domenik Hixon on returns? Last year, he averaged 15.1 yards on punt returns and performed relatively well on kickoffs. But he tore his ACL early in training camp, and it sounds like RB Danny Ware will handle kickoffs and CB Aaron Ross will take punts. Yet, Ware only has returned two kicks in his career, and Ross hasn’t done it at all (though he seemed pretty decent at it his final two years at Texas) The loss of Hixon could be a pretty big deal. Let’s talk about special teams as a whole here. P Matt Dodge was fairly horrendous, line-driving his punts and having another one blocked. Three of Andre Brown’s kick returns didn’t extend past the 22-yard line. Ross did nothing of note while fielding two punts.

-A few other observations: Eli Manning said the mix-up between him and Brandon Jacobs was the quarterback’s fault. In case you missed it, the two collided on what was supposed to be a handoff, Jets LB Calvin Pace then blind-sided Manning and popped off his helmet and Manning’s forehead smacked into Jim Leonhard’s helmet, opening a three-inch gash on his forehead that needed 12 stitches to close. Said Manning in quotes distributed by the team: “I feel fine. I feel normal. Sometimes you make a mistake and get hit in the head."

-Cruz was a joy to watch. He made a one-handed catch on a 64-yard TD pass, and he was the most remarkable subplot of the evening. He’s battling with Sinorice Moss for the sixth WR spot. Moss didn’t play because of a groin injury. Moss, in the next three games, should make sure he finds a way to get on the field.

-The Giants first-team offense recorded five yards in the first quarter. Don’t forget that.

-Kellen Clemens replaced Sanchez to start the second half. Wait a minute, I thought Mark Brunell was the backup QB.

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Posted on: August 16, 2010 7:25 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2010 8:35 pm
 

What to watch for in NYG-NYJ game

NYG defensive coordinator Perry Fewell will begin to show his wares tonight against the NYJ (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Only one game on the preseason docket tonight, but it should be an interesting one. New York Jets vs. New York Giants in the new stadium the two squads share. HBO’s Hard Knocks cameras will be there. So will Rex Ryan and his never-ending string of F-bombs. So will the Giants, who have claimed they have no idea what Hard Knocks is.

I’m sure the fans in attendance will be on their best behavior, and since they’ll want to study up on tonight’s most important storylines while eschewing any type of alcoholic beverage that could impinge on their abilities to break down the game, here are three pressing questions for each team.

Jets

1) How will Kyle Wilson look? Without Darrelle Revis around, Wilson is sure to get looks with the first team. How he performs could affect the team’s negotiations with Revis. If Wilson looks completely competent, the Jets can afford (perhaps) to take their time with Revis. If he looks overmatched, maybe they’ll give Revis’ agent a quick phone call post-game.

2) Can Mark Sanchez handle a more high-profile passing attack?
Last year, Sanchez could allow his running game and his team’s defense to help him win games. This season, the Jets likely will allow him to test his arm a little more. We might get a few chances to see that tonight.

3) Does LaDainian Tomlinson still have it?
This obviously won’t be answered tonight. But if Hard Knocks is any indication – and that’s debatable – Tomlinson still has speed and the ability to make the big play (even while catching it out of the backfield). I imagine he’ll get some playing time tonight to see how he performs in a game-like atmosphere.

Giants

1) Will the Giants defense be better than last year? It’d be tough to have been worse. As Clark Judge so astutely points out in his Giants camp report , the squad allowed 427 points last season, the most since 1966. To say that’s embarrassing is an understatement. Let’s see how new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s men perform.

2) How will the Giants’ new additions on defense help? New York get safety Kenny Phillips back and the Giants have added LB Keith Bulluck, first-round pick DE Jason Pierre-Paul and safeties Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant. How will they all mesh? The Giants have added some veterans, but does that mean all of these players still have the ability to dominate on defense?

3) How much will the Giants miss Domenik Hixon on returns? Last year, he averaged 15.1 yards on punt returns and performed relatively well on kickoffs. But he tore his ACL early in training camp, and it sounds like RB Danny Ware will handle kickoffs and CB Aaron Ross will take punts. Yet, Ware only has returned two kicks in his career, and Ross hasn’t done it at all (though he seemed pretty decent at it his final two years at Texas) The loss of Hixon could be a pretty big deal.

And if you didn’t think this preseason game was huge enough, consider the following: this will be the first contest where officials will experiment with starting and stopping the game clock themselves from the field.

From USA Today :

Four officials will wear a smartphone-sized pack by which they can control the pace of the game clock with the press of a button. The officials will work in concert with the game clock operator in the booth, and the system will activate whenever the first official hits the button.

The goal is to be more accurate and reduce lag time between when a play ends or when the ball is set and when the game clock officially starts.


If all goes well, the league could consider adding the system in 2011.


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Posted on: June 19, 2010 10:05 am
 

Examing the Giants' Safeties

The New York Giant safeties – FS Antrel Rolle; SS Kenny Phillips – believe they can be the best safety tandem in the NFL. They can, if both are healthy. But Phillips, who is coming off ’09 microfracture knee surgery, still isn’t cutting much. At his best, Phillips is perhaps a slightly faster version of the late Sean Taylor. His closing speed and pop at the point of contact are phenomenal.

Still, over the offseason, the Giants brought in veteran Deon Grant and spent a third-round pick on Chad Jones. Grant is somewhat of a journeyman plugger. He had a non-impact in Seattle – particularly when asked to stay out of the box and hold down centerfield – but in Jacksonville and Carolina, he provided consistent stability. Jones is a cover safety from LSU who is still raw. But teams generally don’t spend third-round picks on projected long-term backups.

With Phillips, the Giants are dominant at safety. Without him, they’re still more than adequate. Newcomer Antrel Rolle, a former first-round cornerback, is excellent in coverage. Versatility augments Rolle’s range (he’s capable of shadowing the slot and playing from a backpedal). Rolle is also a first-class playmaker with the ball in his hand and a deft open-field tackler.

Great safeties allow for aggressive cornerback play. New York’s trio of corners, Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross, thrived in press coverage under Steve Spagnuolo in ’08. Expect the Giants to get back to this in 2010.

--Andy Benoit

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com