Like it or not, Aaron Ross will be a pivotal player for the New York Giants on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles -- and likely for the rest of the 2011 season. Ross is not only starting at cornerback for Terrell Thomas, but now with Domenik Hixon also out for the season coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday that Ross will also return punts.
Really, what choice do the Giants have right now? Do you want to see Jerrel Jernigan make his NFL debut as a punt returner in Philly?
So, let's talk about Ross, the first-round pick in 2007 who has vastlyunder-performed his draft slot. We have been killing Ross for his performance in coverage the first two weeks. In two games he has been thrown at 15 times and surrendered 10 completions. Disturbingly, those 10 completions have totalled 237 yards, 23.7 per catch. St. Louis's plan was pretty obvious. Need a completion? Throw at whoever Ross was covering.It eventually drove the Giants to remove him from the game -- until they saw that Michael Coe wasn't any better.
Thing is, Ross has not been all bad in coverage. He has three passes defensed in those 15 throws, which is pretty good.
To me, he seems to be either feast or famine in coverage. He has the speed and the physical ability to blanket guys, yet there are some plays where he just lets receivers run right by him -- or gives so much cushion it looks like he is playing over at the Timex Performance Center practice field across the parking lot. That tells me that perhaps it is a matter of concentration for Ross, bringing his best on some plays but too often suffering brainlock and not doing what he should.
No one expects Ross to suddenly morph into a shutdown guy, but he needs to be better than he has been the past two weeks.