Let's continue our series of player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the New York Giants will bring to training camp later this month. Our spotlight here falls on starting safety and defensive captain Antrel Rolle, one of the team's most emotional and vocal players. Rolle was also one of the team's few outstanding performers last season.
2013 Season In Review
Rolle's leadership position with the Giants was formally acknowledged when his teammates voted him to be a defensive captain along with then-teammate Justin Tuck. Rolle responded by not only continuing to be a vocal leader who is not afraid to publicly hold his teammates accountable, but by having one of the best seasons of his career on the field. He made his third Pro Bowl in nine NFL seasons while intercepting a career-high six passes, getting two sacks, 12 passes defensed and 98 tackles. Rolle had a +8.0 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. Quarterbacks had only a 43.2 passer rating while targeting Rolle. The Giants had a miserable season, of course, but none of that can be pinned on Rolle.
2014 Season Preview
2014 Season Preview
2014 Season Outlook
The 31-year-old Rolle is in the final season of his five-year, $31 million contract. As valuable as he has become to the Giants, and as well as he played in 2013, Rolle could be in his final season with the Giants. That, however, does not minimize his importance.
With Will Hill gone from the roster, released after a third NFL suspension in as many years, the Giants need Rolle to once again remain healthy and play at a high level. With Tuck now a member of the Oakland Raiders, they also need his leadership.
"I just go out there and play ball. I just know how to be Antrel. I don't worry about wearing several different kinds of hats, I just go out there and play ball. If I need to say something, it's going to be said. If I need to do something, it's going to be done. I just go out there and play ball," Rolle said. "I think there should be 53 leaders in this locker room, not four, five of six. Every man leads in their own way."
Rolle should benefit greatly from the Giants' increased depth at cornerback. With Prince Amukamara, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond, Trumaine McBride, Zack Bowman, Charles James, Jayron Hosley and sixth-round pick Bennett Jackson at the position Rolle should no longer have to slide down into the uncomfortable role of slot cornerback.
The future beyond the 2014 season is murky for Rolle. During the upcoming season, however, Rolle will be one of the most important Giants as they try to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.