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Ross Cockrell excited to find role in Giants' secondary


Cornerback Ross Cockrell, who was acquired on Saturday, looks to fit into the Giants' secondary:

– Ross Cockrell practiced with the Giants for the first time today, approximately 42 hours after being traded by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"Things obviously move fast in the NFL," Cockrell said.

They will continue to progress swiftly for him this week as he tries to learn the Giants defense – and the game plan – well enough to contribute in the season opener Sunday night in Dallas.

"That is what I am working for," Cockrell said. "I know we have a big game, division rivals, Sunday night. So I am in the playbook hard, learning, and in the film room as well.

"I am still learning right now. I know this is a team that has good pass rushers, playmakers on the outside. So I am finding my role and wherever the coaches feel like they can use me, I will be there."

Cockrell was acquired to improve the Giants' depth and skill level at cornerback. Last season, he started all 19 regular-season and postseason games for the Steelers at right cornerback. Cockrell led Pittsburgh with 14 passes defensed, and had a career-high 62 tackles (47 solo).

"He is a heady corner that has played a lot of football," coach Ben McAdoo said. "He's been a starter in this league and he provides some versatility." McAdoo added Cockrell is "able and willing" to help on special teams, and has the ability to play both outside and in the slot.

"That's what they've been asking me to do here," Cockrell said.

Last week, Pittsburgh signed former Cleveland corner Joe Haden, a high-profile transaction for this time of year. Cockrell immediately questioned if it would affect his standing with the Steelers. His instincts proved to be correct when the Giants acquired him in exchange for a conditional 2018 draft choice.

"I didn't know if they were going to keep me, find a way to keep me, or what was going to go on," he said. "I was just waiting to hear. I knew the (roster) deadline was going to come up, so I was just waiting on that."

Cockrell was thrilled to go from one 2016 playoff team to another.

"I was very happy to find out it was here," he said. "I know this is a good team on the rise and a team that is chasing a Super Bowl. That was the focus of my offseason training, so I am glad that it didn't go to waste."

Same goal, different uniform. And he's gone from practicing against Antonio Brown (106 catches, second in the NFL) to covering Odell Beckham, Jr. (101 receptions, third in the league).

"It's very advantageous," he said of practicing against the best in the NFL. "Obviously, because these are some of the guys who are top five receivers in the league. So whenever you get to go against that kind of talent, it is going to elevate your game."  

With the Cowboys waiting this week, the Giants hope Cockrell puts aside the distraction of being traded and quickly grasps the defense.

"Because it is happening so fast, I believe that makes it easier, because I don't have time to worry about this or worry about that," he said. "I am here in New York with the Giants. I am learning a new system, I am learning a new game plan and we got a big game on Sunday night. So there's not really time to think about anything else. I am very happy that I have a wife who is handling things for me in Pittsburgh and handling some of the details on that end. So it makes it easier for me to focus on football."

*McAdoo said Beckham (sprained ankle), "stayed on the bike and worked with the training staff today. He's working with the training staff, getting treatment, we'll see how he responds. He did some work today and we'll see how he responds tomorrow morning."

Beckham's status for the Dallas game won't be decided until later in the week, very possibly on game day.

"He is doing everything that they ask him in the training room," McAdoo said. "If is ready to go on Sunday, we'll play him. If he's not, we won't."

*Another marquee receiver, Brandon Marshall, practiced again and is on track to play in Dallas. Marshall hurt his shoulder in a preseason game in Cleveland two weeks ago.

"I'll be out there," Marshall said. "I feel good other than that hit I had in Cleveland. The body feels amazing."

*Cornerback Eli Apple (ankle) and defensive tackle Jay Bromley (knee) were limited in practice.

*Linebacker Keenan Robinson remains in the NFL concussion protocol.

*McAdoo was asked if he plans to make changes to the starting offensive line.

"We will take a look at it as the week goes on and put guys to the test, and see how they respond," he said. "We have a big padded practice on Thursday. We'll see how guys play and how they prepare, and we'll make the decision from there."

*The Giants this morning added the final two pieces to their 10-man practice squad when they signed wide receiver Travis Rudolph and linebacker Nordly "Cap" Capi.

Rudolph is well-known to Giants fans. The former Florida State standout – who famously befriended an autistic boy in a school lunchroom last year – was one of the team's most productive players in the preseason. Rudolph finished with a team-high 157 receiving yards, and his nine catches were tied for the Giants' second-highest total, just one behind tight end Matt LaCosse. He was waived on Saturday.

Capi, 6-3 and 247 pounds, spent most of the 2016 season on the practice squad of the Arizona Cardinals, who released him on Saturday. In the just-completed preseason, he had 13 tackles (11 solo), 1.5 sacks, and eight quarterback hits. Capi entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015, and has been on the practice squads of the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons. Capi began his collegiate career at Colorado State before transferring to Akron, where he had 70 tackles and seven sacks in two seasons.

Rudolph and Capi join the eight players signed yesterday to the practice squad: offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty, defensive end Jordan Williams, wide receiver Marquis Bundy, offensive lineman Jon Halapio, linebacker Curtis Grant, cornerbacks Donte Deayon and Tim Scott, and safety Ryan Murphy.

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