ALBANY, N.Y. -- Antrel Rolle may have to cover slot receivers again after all.
After coming into camp thinking he would be able to play like more of a traditional safety, and be more of a ball hawk, Rolle likely will be covering slot receivers again this season due to Terrell Thomas' injury.
"That loss was painful," Merritt said of Thomas re-injuring his right ACL. "It happened last year. And Antrel went back and studied some of his cornerback skills when he was in Arizona and he had to go down and play in that slot area."
"We’d love to have him at safety," Merritt added, "but we’re going to put him in the best position we can afford to help ourselves as a team."
Merritt had a conversation with Rolle two days ago and told the safety the Giants wanted him to get more reps against the slot. Rolle said that wasn't a problem.
"And then of course, after the Terrell Thomas situation, I went back to him again," Merritt said. "I said, 'OK Antrel, you need to think of yourself as a starter at that position." He said, 'Whatever it takes.' Antrel has been a tremendous leader for us. His ability to be able to play on the slot, in the box as a deep-field safety ... it’s something that you just don’t have on each team."
Of course, Merritt admits that in order to put Rolle down against the slot, the team will need a third safety, like they had last season in Deon Grant. And that has become a bit problematic now with Tyler Sash suspended for the first four games of the season.
In order to keep Rolle at his traditional safety spot, the Giants would need a cornerback like Prince Amukamara, Michael Coe, Justin Tryon, Jayron Hosley or Bruce Johnson to emerge as an option to cover the slot. That is a possibility. But Rolle is the best option -- at least the one they trust the most right now.
Merritt also said the Giants could use a linebacker, like Jacquian Williams or Keith Rivers, to play the Grant role from last year when Rolle is in the slot, unless there are three receivers on the field.
"We won a Super Bowl with that one," Merritt said of using Rolle on slot receivers. "So it wasn’t too bad."