NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Veteran safety Deon Grant had a chance to sign with a couple of other teams after the free agency period started, and probably could have landed a job where he might have had a shot at starting.
Grant turned them down though and waited almost three weeks for the Giants to call.
It wasn’t a wait in vain. Grant took the call on Monday, and by Tuesday, the 32-year-old was back on the field practicing with the Giants.
The only thing that has changed — for now — is his number. His old No. 34 has been replaced by No. 30, although he expects to have his old number back by Monday night when the Giants face the Chicago Bears at New Meadowlands Stadium.
Grant, who stayed in touch with some coaches and players in recent weeks, is excited to be back. He gave the Giants a new dimension playing in a three safety alignment with Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips and helped New York post a 10-6 record.
“I felt like I started something here last year and we started something here last year that we didn’t finish,” Grant said Tuesday. “I have something like that in my hands, I like to finish it. And with all the things going on in Philly right now, that is the team I love to face. I am a competitive guy so with them and all the additions that they made, I wanted to be on the other side of the ball going against them.”
The Giants probably should have won the NFC East last season. They seemingly had the Eagles beat in a December game that would have given them command in the division, but gave up 28 points in the final 7½ minutes in a stunning 38-31 loss. The rally was led by Michael Vick, and capped by a game-ending, 65-yard punt return for a touchdown by DeSean Jackson.
Philadelphia went on to win the division and lost in the first round of the playoffs. But the Eagles seemingly have gotten even better by making a big splash in the free agent market. While the Giants went relatively quiet, the Eagles signed Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin, quarterback Vince Young, running back Ronnie Brown, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins and former Giants receiver Steve Smith.
“We just have to make sure that we do what we do,” said Grant, who had 68 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and three recoveries in his first season with the Giants. “We have to worry about us. We can’t worry about what’s going on in Philly, New England, the Jets, nowhere else. You just have to make sure that we take care of New York Giants football. We will win games by doing that.”
Grant felt he would return to the Giants all along, but he knew the team planned to start Rolle and Phillips this year, so his role was somewhat of a question mark. When he signed last year, Phillips was coming off major knee surgery and the Giants were not sure how well he would hold up. Grant was the insurance policy for Phillips and he ended up starting eight games.
Grant either played near the line of scrimmage in those three-safety formations, or covered the tight end.
“This year, I am just coming in to play ball,” Grant said. “If I need to be a bigger leader in the locker room and my playing time may not be as much, or my playing time will be as much and I am less of a leader, whatever the case may be. I am just coming in here to do what it takes to win games.”
Grant isn’t sure how much coordinator Perry Fewell will employ three safeties this season.
“We have to keep them guessing,” Grant said. “I think Perry Fewell has some things in store. He is not going to have things exactly the same as last year and make it easy for teams.”
Coach Tom Coughlin said whatever the Giants do, Grant will fit in.
“He’s a veteran safety who’s always been a guy that you can rely on for knowing everybody’s assignments and being able to really understand the game,” Coughlin said. “He’s very smart. He’s played a long time. He’s just a good, good, solid football player that we know will help us back there.”
Grant said being back with his ‘family’ was great, although the locker room felt a little dead without his music blaring.
“We lost some guys that I had a great relationship with,” he said. “But we still have most of them here and they welcomed me back with open arms.”
Will the Giants get revenge on the Eagles in 2011? Make your prediction in the comments below…
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)