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Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Rolle's versatility impresses Merritt

By Mike Mazzeo

Antrel Rolle rarely if ever comes out of games.

So when he has to cover slot receivers on third down, he may be tired.

That’s what makes his play so impressive, says Giants secondary/safeties coach Dave Merritt.

“For him to go into the slot position and cover that third wideout that comes into the game fresh when he has been on the field the entire time is tough,” Merritt said. “That is the one thing that I want to make sure everyone understands. A lot of times when that third wideout comes in, you bring in your third or fourth DB and they are both fresh and going to battle. Antrel is on the field the whole entire time and then all of a sudden he has to cover that third wideout who just came on the field as a fresh player. We have put him into man-to-man situations as well as zone and he has responded. He really has and he is doing a really good job.”

Rolle began his pro career as a corner in Arizona, but was moved to free safety in 2008. At that point, he never thought he’d have to switch back to his former position, but injuries to Terrell Thomas and Prince Amuakamara led to the veteran being thrust emergency slot corner duty.

“It actually goes back to when we first came into camp, we said we were going to use Terrell Thomas as the nickel and use Prince on the outside as well as Corey Webster or Aaron Ross,” Merritt said. “Then all of a sudden Prince and Terrell Thomas go down and you say who is the next best guy now. It is Antrel Rolle. We were never going to use Prince in that position right away. It would have been Antrel as the second nickel and when Terrell Thomas went down, that is when it accelerated his mental as far as learning the slot position which he hasn’t done in a couple years. If you go back to last year, he actually played in our three safety package at the nickel position. I actually related it to when we called it x, y, or z last year and that is all you are doing but just a little more. It is a little more man-to-man. He has responded well.”