EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Antrel Rolle has a Super Bowl ring. So does Prince Amukamara. And newcomer Walter Thurmond.
NFL veterans Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Zack Bowman, Stevie Brown, Quintin Demps and Trumaine McBride know the ropes.
Now, they all need to blend together in the New York Giants’ secondary.
Thurmond, who left the Seahawks as a free agent just weeks after winning the championship – in the Giants’ home stadium, no less – believes all of that NFL experience already has led to strong chemistry in the defensive backfield.
“That happens most on the field,” the cornerback said Wednesday of creating the kinship needed to be a winner.
“It happens in the locker room. And it happens outside the locker room with being out and becoming brothers and friends off the field. That translates on to the field.
“That bond is huge.”
It’s also critical. Fans always hear about the required cohesion on an offensive line, but it’s just as important in the secondary.
It’s also a lot more difficult to achieve with so many moving parts. Generally, there are five blockers who play nearly every down on offense. As many as eight defensive backs could be involved on defense throughout a game.
Thurmond thinks studying each other is a key, and he sees his mates in the secondary doing just that. So does Brown.
“We’re learning with each other, learning the strengths,” said Brown, a big-time playmaker in 2012 who sat out all of last season with a torn-up left knee. “It comes in the film room, in the meetings, from talking to each other. From practicing, of course, and playing.”
Brown, who figures to move back into the starting lineup opposite defensive leader Rolle at safety, needs to know what kind of coverages his cornerbacks and fellow safeties prefer.
Are they best at press coverage? Do they like to use their hands a lot, or play a trail technique? Can they tackle, especially in the open field?
The holdovers such as Rolle, Brown, Amukamara and cornerback Jayron Hosley also want to know about the appetites of the new guys.
“I think it’s just about the caliber of guys that we have here,” said Rolle, who, as Brown noted, has played everywhere in the secondary – and played each position well.
“We have guys that are hungry and guys that want to compete. More importantly we have a couple guys that can push those other guys, and that makes us much more better.”
Rodgers-Cromartie, who made the 2009 Pro Bowl with Arizona, then played with Philadelphia and Denver, would seem the likely starter opposite 2011 first-round draftee Amukamara on the corners. But Thurmond, mostly a nickel back in the league’s best secondary in Seattle, should get lots of playing time.
Demps, Bowman and several younger players are in the mix at safety and could have roles on special teams. Should Brown struggle in his comeback, the Giants can be comforted by the apparent depth at the position.
Thurmond has liked what he has seen since signing on in March.
“We’ve been able to build that camaraderie in the room,” he said. “I think we were able to jell during OTAs and find out each other’s style of play.
“I’m looking forward to playing with these talented guys.”
So is Rolle, who made headlines earlier in the week for saying, “Absolutely. I think this is one of the most talented teams I have ever been on, if not the most talented.”
NOTES: X-rays on middle linebacker Jameel McClain’s left foot were negative. He left practice early on Tuesday. McClain was on the field for portions of Wednesday’s workouts. … Top draft pick Odell Beckham Jr., hampered by a sore hamstring, didn’t do much. Coach Tom Coughlin said Beckham tripped on a deep pass pattern on Tuesday, after which the rookie moved gingerly. … Coughlin was upbeat about the work of running backs David Wilson, returning from neck surgery, and rookie Andre Williams, the nation’s leading rusher at Boston College last year.
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