*STATEMENT: Tyler Sash will be the Giants' third safety this year.
EISEN: Fiction - *Sash will be a special teams standout and a spot contributor on defense, but I think the third safety will be either a more experienced player – recently-signed Chris Horton and Stevie Brown will get springtime looks – or a 2012 draft choice.
SCHMEELK: Fiction - He will have competition from both Chris Horton and Stevie Brown, two veterans the Giants brought in via free agency. It's also possible the Giants add another safety in the draft. Sash showed potential last year and contributed valuable snaps on special teams but he still has to prove his ability to play on defense, especially in coverage. He'll have a chance to win the job in training camp, but it will be a tough competition.
SALOMONE:Fact - Not right away as the competition will have to play out. It's pretty unanimous that the coaching staff – and teammates – have nothing but praise for Sash, but we'll see if/when his noteworthy special teams play as a rookie will translate to more defensive reps.
STATEMENT: Kenny Phillips will have more than 5 interceptions in 2012.
*EISEN:Fiction - He had four in 2011 and could well increase that total this year. But until I see a Giants safety have a big interceptions season, I'm not predicting one.
SCHMEELK: Fact - Last year, Kenny Phillips had a career high four interceptions, and showed improvement another year removed from knee surgery. Having another season with Perry Fewell, he should be able to take another step forward. With Terrell Thomas returning from his knee injury and Prince Amukamara healthy, there should be more stability in the secondary, which will only help Phillips. Antrel Rolle returning to his more natural safety position will give Phillips more confidence to make plays on the ball as well.
SALOMONE:Fiction - If it was five, I'd say "push." But more than five is hard to jump on board with. He is, however, capable of it when he is "balling" as Perry Fewell likes to describe him. He had four last year, so he's in the ballpark.
STATEMENT: Antrel Rolle will play more safety next season than slot corner
EISEN:Fact - Assuming all the corners stay healthy, the Giants will have someone else to play in the slot, which will allow Rolle to spend his time at safety.
SCHMEELK: Fact - If Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara are healthy next season they should slide in as the second and third cornerbacks. In theory, that should free up Antrel Rolle to move back to playing safety. He was known as a playmaker before arriving with the Giants, but forcing him to play slot corner took away a lot of his opportunities for interceptions. Moving him back to safety should mean more takeaway opportunities, which is exactly what this Giants defense is looking for.
SALOMONE:Fact - That's the plan, right. The Giants are wisely shoring up the secondary with free agency to avoid the spot duty they got into last season with injuries (yes, I know, it worked out in the end, but they'll hope to avoid it). But Fewell likes to mix things up, which leads to my next answer.
STATEMENT: The Giants will play three safeties at the same time less frequently in 2012 than they did in 2011.
*EISEN:Fact - Corey Webster is a given at one corner. If Terrell Thomas rebounds from his knee surgery – and he is absolutely certain he will – and Prince Amukamara is as good as the Giants believe he is, then the Giants will play three corners more frequently than they line up with three safeties.
SCHMEELK: Fact - Like I said in the above question, if Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara are healthy, it gives the Giants three quality cornerbacks. Their nickel package would likely feature those two players along with Corey Webster at corner, with Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips at safety. In dime or quarter formations, a third safety might find his way onto the field, but not nearly as often as last season. The depth the Giants have at linebacker might also affect how much they use three safeties, since that group would be better against the run than the traditional three cornerback nickel package. At times last season, Tom Coughlin made reference in his press conferences that his three safety package was better against the run than the 4-3 base. If that continues, you might see just as much of the three safety group.
SALOMONE:Fiction - Or fact. Or somewhere in between. It's hard to predict, and that's the way Fewell likes it. It depends on a lot of variables – not only on what the Giants do personnel-wise but also who they're playing, where are the matchups and who's healthy.