*Giants CB Leon Hall played nine seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Leon Hall played nine years for the Cincinnati Bengals and has been with the Giants for eight games. So it's perfectly understandable he's had some trouble sorting his feelings out on the teams' meeting tomorrow night in MetLife Stadium.
"I don't know if weird would be the word," Hall said this week. "I mean, it's different. Different watching film on them this week. Just never have. It's like one of those deals where, for the most part, every team in the NFL, I've watched film on every week or that game week. This will definitely be a first for me."
In Cincinnati, he played in 121 regular-season games with 105 starts, intercepted 26 passes and tallied more than 500 total tackles. Hall also started all four postseason games in which he played and returned an interception for a touchdown. But the Bengals chose not to re-sign Hall, their 2007 first-round draft choice, prior to this season. He signed with the Giants on Aug. 4.
"We have drafted some young players over the last three or four seasons and at some point, you are trying to clear opportunity and space," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said on a conference call. "We spoke with Leon a number of times, and Leon was hesitant to commit to coming back because he was unsure what his role was going to be at that point. We thought that we moved on from Leon and Leon moved a little bit away from us as well."
Now, the NFL schedule has brought his former team to town to play his new team. Hall insists he is not looking to prove to the Bengals that they made a mistake.
"I don't look at it that way," he said. "I could see how you would or could do that, but I'm just trying to see what I can do for the team, come out with the win and go from there."
Hall will have a legion of admirers on both sidelines tomorrow. He still has many friends among the players and coaches in Cincinnati.
"He was a big part of us, he is a big part of me, you love him, you love his family," Lewis said. "I was completely honest with him about what his role was that we perceived it to be, and he was looking to be able to carve out maybe a little bit more niche still that way."
The Giants have come to appreciate Hall's skill, versatility, experience, and the example he sets for the young players in the secondary. He has played outside, in the slot, as a dime back, and at safety.
"I like that, actually," Hall said. "I prefer it that way. I've always liked to do multiple things, which is part of the reason I like nickel so much. You get to do a whole plethora of things in coverages and blitzes, so being at dime is kind of the same idea as safety, which I played a little bit in Cincinnati or definitely practiced some of it. So it wasn't too out of the ordinary, but I like doing that kind of stuff."
The Giants have deployed Hall at safety after suffering several injuries at the position.
"With the safety injuries that we have had, thank God that Leon is smart enough and has enough decent size that he can go inside and play safety," defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. "Because right now with DT (Darian Thompson) hurt, Mykelle Thompson and so Leon slipping in there - I am not sure that we have another corner body type that can do it other than Leon. So if we didn't have him, we would really be in trouble. I am glad we got him."
Spagnuolo is also impressed with Hall off the field.
"He is especially valuable in meetings, sitting in there as you are watching tape," Spagnuolo said. "He can sit there and he can fall back on his experience as a player in this league and he has been a pro."
Spagnuolo has mined Hall for information this week.
"He knows this football team, so that helps," Spagnuolo said. "He has been giving us insight on these guys, so we will keep leaning on him."
Of course, nobody on the Giants needs Hall to tell them how good A.J. Green is. Green is widely considered to be in the top five among NFL wide receivers. Hall saw him perform in hundreds of practices.
"I don't know who's playing better than him right now," Hall said. "Maybe (Atlanta's) Julio Jones. He's tough to cover. He's a freak athlete, one of those guys that you can't compare to anybody else. Calvin Johnson-type, game-breaker."
It's uncertain whether Hall will get to line up opposite of Green on Monday night. He was inactive for the Giants' victory against Philadelphia last week, the first time in his career he was a healthy scratch.
"Look, it is not easy to be deactivated on a game day, and I don't know what will happen this week," Spagnuolo said. "It will just depend on how Ben (McAdoo) shakes it out. But I am sure glad we got him. He is a guy that we can lean on."
McAdoo didn't tip his hand regarding Hall's status.
"We're looking to go into the game with the 46 (players) we feel will help us in all three phases," McAdoo said. Asked if he thought Hall could help the team, McAdoo said, "Absolutely."
Hall certainly hopes he gets to face his old friends.
"It would be unfortunate (to be inactive), but at the end of the day, going into this week, I knew that was a possibility," he said. "It would (stink) for sure, just as much as it did last week. It would obviously be nice to be out there and make some plays. We'll see what happens and how the week pans out, and what happens on Monday night."