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Giants safeties coach David Merritt pleased with how Deon Grant has accepted his role

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Giants safeties coach David Merritt pleased with how Deon Grant has accepted his role

Post  Big_Pete on Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:33 pm

from http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2010/10/giants_safeties_coach_david_me.html

Giants safeties coach David Merritt pleased with how Deon Grant has accepted his role
Published: Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 3:39 PM Updated: Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 3:51 PM
Mike Garafolo/The Star-Ledger Mike Garafolo/The Star-Ledger


Giants safeties coach David Merritt said the number of veterans in the secondary has allowed the team to increase its defensive packages and game plans.

Before the first game of the regular season, when Deon Grant found out Kenny Phillips would be the Giants’ starting safety opposite Antrel Rolle, Grant said some pretty strong things to the media. He made it clear he wouldn’t be happy as a backup, which he said would be a "hard adjustment."

At that point, it would figure safeties coach David Merritt would be worried about having a mutiny on his hands.

“No,” Merritt told reporters Wednesday. “Because you know what, I pulled Deon in immediately and said, ‘Let’s remember some of our conversations we had. Your leadership is more important for us on the field as well as off the field.’

“And just by the little conversations and the talk we had, he was able to step back and say, ‘You know what, Coach, I know my role and therefore I’m going to accept my role and move forward.’”

It didn’t happen immediately. In fact, after the season-opening victory over the Panthers, a moment between Grant and general manager Jerry Reese in the tunnel leading to the locker room indicated the two had a long conversation as well.

“Oh, it probably took him a couple of weeks,” Merritt said with a laugh when asked if his conversation with Grant had taken right away. “But now, if you look at his snap total, he’s played almost 280 snaps on defense, whereas my two starters have played 300-something snaps. So he’s looking at it saying, ‘Woo, I’m getting a workout.’ Yeah, you are.”

The Giants’ second-ranked defense has relied upon stellar play from its front four, solid performances from its linebackers and very good coverage from its cornerbacks. But the biggest additions to the unit from last season have been the signings of Grant and Rolle, as well as the return of Phillips.

It’s a far cry from the days of C.C. Brown, Aaron Rouse and Michael Johnson.

“This crew we have we can do a lot more as far as a volume of defense vs. the crew we had last year,” Merritt said. “And that comes back to the veteran leadership and the veterans on this team that have played a lot more football. You can give them more of the package we like to run. Last year, we had young guys back there, so there wasn’t much we could give them. You tried to scale it back a little bit.

“But now these guys, you talk about Deon Grant 11 years in the league, you can just continue to load his plate up and he’ll let you know, ‘Coach, the guys can’t get that,’ or ‘Yeah, we could do that or this.’ The fact you can continue to just pile it on up, just continue to layer and layer is awesome. Last year, we couldn’t do that.”

Last year, they also didn’t play three safeties on the field at once. That’s what they’re doing this season, with Grant often serving as a pseudo-linebacker.

Merritt revealed Wednesday the team was intending to play rookie Chad Jones in that linebacker role. That plan obviously was scrapped in June when Jones was involved in a car accident that nearly cost him his leg. Now, while Jones is focused solely on his rehab, Grant is playing that spot – and playing it well.

“To come in here and see Deon step in at that same position,” Merritt said, “and see him played as well as he’s been playing, is phenomenal.”

As is Grant’s leadership, which revealed itself in the spring and again after Week 1.

(DISCLAIMER: If you were a Giants fan before 2007, you might not want to read this next quote. It might cause uncontrollable shivers.)

“Tim Lewis, he and I spoke before we signed Deon,” Merritt said of the former Giants defensive coordinator. “And everything Tim said about him as a leader has all come to pass. I’ve had a blueprint before he came into the Giants’ organization. Just talking to Tim and being able to see it is really good.”

As is Grant’s accepting his role, which is always easier to do when you’re getting more than a backup’s allotment of snaps, when you’re sacking the quarterback and when you’re winning.

“Winning helps a whole lot,” Merritt said, “especially here in New York/New Jersey.”

* * * *

I asked Merritt about Rolle’s saying the on-field communication is “excellent” right now.

“Unbelievable,” Merritt said of the communication. “Just the fact the players now understand that, if you communicate, you pick up your cell phones, you call your mom, you call your girlfriend, you do the same thing on the field. You communicate. That’s all you have to do. If you talk about things before the play happens, it’s going to be that much easier once the play starts.

“But the communication has been at a high level. And I’m going to give a lot of credit to the fact all the guys, not just the safeties, I’m talking about the corners, the linebackers, the defensive linemen, everybody communicates.”

* * * *

As is always the case on the day we get assistant coaches, I get a feeling of being overwhelmed for two reasons: one, I realize how little I truly understand about what's going on out there on the field and, two, we get so much good stuff it's a matter of figuring out how I'm going to get it all out there to you.

So stay tuned over the next couple of days and into next week. We have a lot of stuff to send your way that will help you get through the bye weekend.
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