Commentary

Deon Grant living the dream with Giants

Newly re-signed safety eager to get multiple cracks at star-studded East rival Eagles

Updated: August 17, 2011, 7:12 AM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Deon Grant walked into the New York Giants locker room and noticed something very different.

Besides a lot of young faces he didn't recognize, Grant thought the locker room was too quiet. That will change now that Grant, who loves to play music at his locker, is back.

The Giants re-signed the veteran safety on Tuesday and it didn't take him long to make himself at home. Besides saying that he will soon be playing music in the locker room, Grant was happily slapping hands with Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips and Terrell Thomas on the sideline and encouraging the defense during practice.

He also wasted no time diving into the Eagles-Giants rivalry headfirst and saying that he doesn't believe in a dream team.

"Dream team is played when it is All-Star time, that is Pro Bowl guys," Grant said. "I have never seen a dream team during the regular season."

Grant has been watching all the moves made by the Eagles and he said the idea of playing them at least twice a year was a major reason for him returning to the Giants.

Signing the 32-year-old Grant certainly doesn't make up for losing Kevin Boss or Steve Smith in free agency. And he's not going to make Giants fans forget about Boss or Smith defecting or be the one move that puts the Giants over the top in the NFC East.

"No way near [that level]," Grant said of his signing versus the moves the Eagles have made. "Not at my age, but we're definitely going to make sure it is a competitive situation."

And this is just one reason why Grant is a good addition and one that will help the Giants this season. Grant exudes veteran confidence and is popular in the locker room.

He gives the team much-needed depth in a secondary that lost backup cornerback Bruce Johnson (Achilles) for the season and first-round pick Prince Amukamara (broken foot) until possibly mid to late September.

And the most important aspect of his re-signing is that he allows defensive coordinator Perry Fewell more flexibility and the ability to play three safeties on the field again whenever he wants.

At the moment, Fewell has more options than a single guy looking for a date on Match.com. He can play Mathias Kiwanuka, Jonathan Goff and Michael Boley at linebacker or decide to throw Grant, Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips out there with two of those linebackers.

He can use four pass-rushers at once with Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul and Kiwanuka and still get Grant on the field with the two starting safeties.

Fewell may not do that, but at least he has that option now. Head coach Tom Coughlin and Grant both refused to say whether the Giants will use three safeties again on the field this year.

But safeties coach Dave Merritt said at the start of camp that they were searching for somebody to fill Grant's shoes as the third safety and he mentioned using cornerback Terrell Thomas in that role, which would've meant that the Giants would have had to likely use Aaron Ross and/or Amukamara more.

If Fewell uses the three-safety look again, it should only be better with a year of experience.

"I think it's going to be a great fit for us," Rolle said. "A lot better than last year being that last year there was a lot of mental gymnastics going on out there. You always had to think on the go and you had to do a lot of thinking. It wasn't just a one-assignment technique. I think it's definitely going to be a better unit."

Grant may not be the stud difference-maker that fans were hoping GM Jerry Reese would add during this free-agency period. But he is one more piece for a potential top-five defense to use.

Grant realizes he won't make up for the losses of Boss and Smith on offense but he has faith the Giants will still succeed this season without those two key offensive pieces.

"It is going to be different but it might be different in a good way," Grant said of losing Boss and Smith. "This team has been together within a few weeks without OTAs. They were some great guys, some key guys to what they were doing on offense but Coughlin hasn't been doing it this long without having something up his sleeves. I believe he has something up his sleeve to put us in great situations."

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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