New Giants safety Antoine Bethea is getting ready to enter his 14th NFL season, so he knows a thing or two about both sides of the ball.
And so far, the Giants newest safety likes how the team’s defensive secondary is shaping up, particularly at safety, where Bethea is expected to be paired with Jabrill Peppers, the young safety acquired from the Cleveland Browns as part of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade Monday.
“I think the first thing that I think of is both us being able to play both positions,” he said when asked how he and Peppers will complement each other in defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s defensive backfield.
“So obviously the offense can’t dictate who’s going to be the down safety, who’s going to be back, so I think that will play in our hands some where we can disguise the defense, disguise the coverage and make a quarterback think post snap rather than pre-snap.”
Bethea, who described Peppers as a “good young safety,” suggested that Giants fans are going to like what they see from the youngster.
“Being a fan of the game and playing the safety position, obviously you look across the league and see what other guys are doing,” he said.
“Looking at his play, for the first two years, man he’s been doing some great things. Very versatile—can do a lot of things play in the box play back in the post so I’m excited to be able to play alongside of him.”
It was Bethea’s familiarity with Bettcher, for whom Bethea was with during 2017 in Arizona that led him to sign with the Giants.
Bethea was asked why, despite being this far along in his career, he would want to go to a team that is clearly in a rebuild mode rather than poised to win now. He quickly dismissed the idea the Giants were rebuilding and pointed out that no matter who is on the roster or how much experience they might have, there’s still a job to be done.
“At the end of the day we gotta come to play on Sundays, so regardless of the names you have on paper, you still gotta go out there and perform,” he said. “So you get a new nucleus and some good guys who can work together.
“Obviously, the league year just got started so I know upstairs is doing what they need to do to build a great team. So as players, our job is to come out there and put out our best performance, our best foot forward and put the best product we can out there on the field.”
At the same time, Bethea is sensitive to the fact that the Giants fan base is still reeling from the loss of Collins, who signed with Washington this week.
“I mean, they should be upset,” he said. “Landon is one of the best safeties in the league and a three-time Pro Bowler who played well for the Giants. Myself — and I know Jabrill will say the same thing — I’m pretty sure he’s confident in his play and I’m confident in my play as well. So we’re going to come in here and do what we know what to do and play at a high level.”
Bethea who has mostly been a durable player, credits the eight seasons he spent as a member of the Colts for having learned what it takes to be a pro’s pro
“I think it’s all about being consistent and taking care of your body,” he said.
“I think as far as that longevity, coming into the league, I was fortunate enough to walk in the locker room and be around some greats—(receiver) Marvin Harrison, (quarterback) Peyton Manning, (tight end) Dallas Clark, (receiver) Reggie Wayne—those guys taught me how to be a pro, and I think that’s one of the things I hang my hat on: being a pro’s pro.”
And speaking of Manning, Bethea, who has faced Peyton’s younger brother Eli five times in his career, was asked for his take on whether the younger Manning still has enough juice left in his 38-year-old arm to be a winner.
“He’s a champion,” Bethea said. “Been the leader of this organization for a long time. Obviously, he can still make all the throws and having Saquon back there running the rock out, that’s going to help him out a lot.
“So I’m happy to be a part of this organization and happy to be one of his teammates and I’m excited to see where he can lead us.”
Pen to paper. ✍️ pic.twitter.com/AgWJAl62D7— New York Giants (@Giants) March 14, 2019