If you have paid attention to the New York Giants defense the past two season under coordinator Perry Fewell, you understand how much the Giants have relied on their three-safety package. Well, Deon Grant, the third member of that group -- and most often the 'box' safety playing down near the line of scrimmage -- is gone.
Fewell isn't likely to abandon a philosophy that has worked for the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. And there is always the possibility that Terrell Thomas, one of the best-tackling cornerbacks in the NFL, could handle some of that responsibility with 2011 first-round pick Prince Amukamara handling duties on the outside.
Still, it appears right now that the Giants need a safety step up and replace Grant. Which makes Tyler Sash, entering his second season, today's 'player under pressure' as the Giants head into the 2012 season.
Sash, drafted in the sixth round (198th overall) a season ago would seem like the player with the first shot at Grant's role. Sash played just 41 snaps on defense a season ago with four tackles. His primary impact was on special teams, where he led the Giants with 15 tackles and was the personal protector on the punt team.
Can the former Iowa Hawkeye move from a special teams role into a regular role on the defense this season? Judging by all of the moves the organization has made in the offseason it seems like the Giants are not sure.
The Giants did not draft any safeties in the 2012 NFL Draft. There are, however, five -- yes, five -- new safeties on the current 90-man roster as the Giants work through OTAs and prepare for training camp in Albany.
Stevie Brown and Chris Horton were signed as free agents. Brown, 24, is a 6-foot, 215-pound two-year veteran who has played for the Oakland Raiders and Indianapolis Colts. Horton is a 6-foot-1, 221-pound player who spent three seasons with the Washington Redskins.
There are also three undrafted free agents -- Janzen Jackson (McNeese State), Will Hill (Florida) and JoJo Nicolas (Miami). The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Janzen is an especially intriguing player who might be worth keeping an eye on when training camp begins later this summer.
Would the Giants be stocking up so heavily at the position if they believed fully that Sash was ready for prime time? Probably not.
Could Sash emerge as the third safety? Sure, he could. At 6-foot, 211 pounds he has the size. He showed a nose for the ball during the 2011 preseason, and his special teams work showed the Giants he can hit and tackle.
He still, however, has to prove that he deserves a role in the defense.