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Super Bowl champ Deon Grant assesses Giants secondary

Posted Jun 6, 2016

Former Giant Deon Grant called into Giants.com's Big Blue Kickoff Live to discuss the 2016 defensive backs: 

Despite spending only two seasons with the Giants, Deon Grant was more like Don Grant in the locker room.

Called the “The Godfather” by his former teammates, the safety played in 187 consecutive games throughout his NFL career, the last of which was a victory over New England in Super Bowl XLVI. Now retired, Grant, among other ventures, drops into the Quest Diagnostics Training Center from time to time to speak with players and coaches.
 
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He also recently found time to join “Big Blue Kickoff Live” on Giants.com and break down his old position, where the competition to start opposite Landon Collins has heated up during organized team activities.

Nat Berhe, Mykkele Thompson and Bennett Jackson make up a trio of young players in the mix after missing all of last season due to injuries. Meanwhile, the Giants used their third-round draft pick on Boise State’s Darian Thompson, the Mountain West’s all-time interceptions leader. General manager Jerry Reese and company also added major pieces to other positions on the defense in free agency, which should only help the inexperienced group in Steve Spagnuolo’s second year back as defensive coordinator.

“I think they’re in the best situation they can be in,” Grant said. “They beefed up the cornerback position with some veteran guys. That’s going to take a little pressure off of them and also the D-line. So they don’t have to work as hard at filling the holes and they can just really focus on their playbook and roaming that field. Whoever is going to be that free safety can really just focus on getting the guys lined up and show their range off and their cover skills.
 
“Right now, they definitely have a good battle between the Thompson boys and Jackson and it’s going to be very interesting to see who comes up with the job. With Spags being there, I think the leadership role from one of those guys is really going to impress him and put him in a better position.”

Based on his experience, the latter point is what could make the difference.

“I think being the smartest on the field and just having a little athletic skill is better than being the most athletic player on the field in the skill positions, especially the safety position,” Grant said. “You’re the quarterback of the defense, and I don’t want to talk about me in this situation, but you take a person like me, that’s what I played the game for -- to be one of the smartest guys on the field at all times.”

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On the other side, Collins returns after becoming the first rookie in franchise history to start an entire 16-game season at safety. The former second-round pick led the team in tackles in 2015 while being the only player on the defense to start every game and one of six to suit up every week.

“He was going in with a different cast every week and still trying to learn the game, for one,” Grant said. “And also going against guys like Tom Brady and different guys in the division in the NFC East was as tough as it gets and trying to learn Spags’ defense at the same time, it was a lot of pressure on him. I talked to him throughout the season, and he was getting comfortable as the season was going. By towards the end of the season, his words were, he’d say, ‘I’m looking forward to next year. I know exactly what they expect now and I’m looking forward to next year.’ So I see great things from Landon this year.”

That will only lead to great things from the defense as a whole, which was the main objective this offseason.
 
“I can’t see anything but positive things coming from the secondary and I can’t see anything but great things coming from a Spags’ defense,” Grant said of the architect of the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII-winning defense. “I love Spags as a D-coordinator. I never had the opportunity to play for him, but in ’07 he tried to get me here and we had great conversations. Just watching tape and me studying the game and seeing just exactly what his defense brought back then and what his defense is bringing right now and with his mentality, I only can see him putting those guys in great position to be successful.”