Antrel Rolle changing positions to help Giants

ALBANY, N.Y. — Antrel Rolle reported to training camp with a new haircut and the same mind-set that helped him emerge as a leader for the Giants on the way to their Super Bowl XLVI victory nearly six months ago.

The outspoken Rolle, who has said every word that leaves his mouth has a message, went from complaining about teammates and game plans to complimenting everything the franchise for which he plays represents, from ownership to coach Tom Coughlin and on down.

What the Giants have had since is a playmaker willing to sacrifice his own hunger for some more All-Pro glory in order to help solidify the defense, making it one of the best.

The team is asking Rolle to do exactly that again, at least for the short term.

Because with the uncertainty surrounding Terrell Thomas’ ACL injury continuing to cloud his immediate future, Rolle is the best option the Giants have right now to play nickel cornerback against slot receivers, some of the quickest and most difficult players on the field.

"In life, sometimes you are going to get some changes," said Rolle, who opened camp by expressing his strong desire to move back to his free safety position. "You have to play the cards that are dealt to us. It is something that I have done before so I am not a stranger in this position. So if I have to play it, then so be it."
After practice Thursday, Coughlin had no new information to provide on Thomas’ right knee injury. A report late Wednesday night stated doctors – presumably Dr. Arthur Ting in California, who performed the second surgery — believed Thomas did not tear his ACL when he slipped in practice.

Asked if he believed Thomas could play again this season, Coughlin said, "I don’t know what to believe."

The plan now is for Thomas to see Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., for a third opinion Tuesday.

"As I told you [Wednesday], I’m going to stay positive until somebody tells me differently," Coughlin said. "I think he’s with Dr. Andrews and that’s another opinion, so we’ll see. … I don’t know what to believe until we get it all back … at one time, there was a possibility of a scope to look at to see the damage.
"We’ve done the MRIs and all that stuff. I think he’s collecting different opinions."

The last two times Rolle reported to camp with a unique haircut his teams went to the Super Bowl. The first time was in 2008 with the Arizona Cardinals; then last year with the Giants.

"Whatever it takes to keep it going," Rolle said.

That seems to have become a mantra for a player critics once said talked too much.

"Antrel is willing to do whatever you ask him to do," Coughlin said. "He’s played down there. He’s played back at safety. He’s known both positions. He would play both positions and play them well."

Working under the assumption Thomas will not be back any time soon, if at all — the Giants have to go forward in camp believing that’s the case, considering the circumstances involving his surgically repaired right knee – Rolle playing slot corner puts Prince Amukamara with the first team on the outside likely in a competition against Michael Coe, Justin Tryon and Bruce Johnson.

A wrinkle ultimately could be whether that combination behind Amukamara — in addition to rookie Jayron Hosley — could be using linebacker Jacquian Williams in the pseudo-safety/slot role Deon Grant occupied for most of last season.

"I think we have some different combinations of people, as you’ve seen if you’ve been watching close enough," Coughlin said. "There’s different guys playing in that spot – even Jacquian is playing in that spot. We’ll use the different combinations of people … and whoever we feel like is the best person to give us the balance we want between the pressures and the man coverage aspect of it, we’ll go that."

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