EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- Antrel Rolle will return to the practice field Monday with his teammates.
But he won’t have good friend and fellow safety Stevie Brown on the field with him for the first time this preseason. And that's going to be hard for Rolle.
In the past year Rolle and Brown have become very close, as the two worked to form the kind of bond and chemistry Rolle had with former Giant Kenny Phillips in the defensive backfield. They hung out after offseason practices, watching basketball games and playing billiards.
Brown’s season-ending torn left ACL has been hard for Rolle to digest. “It is definitely taking its toll on me,” said Rolle. “I really don’t know ... we all have to move on from the situation obviously. Like I said, it goes way deeper than football itself when you talk about Stevie Brown’s injury to me.
“That is a hard pill to swallow. You never want to see anyone go down and just to have my sidekick go down like that, it really is tough. It really is.”
The Giants will insert Ryan Mundy into the starting lineup. Mundy and Rolle have about two weeks to get on the same page before the season opener at Dallas on Sept. 8.
“I’ve already somewhat developed a chemistry with Ryan,” Rolle said. “On the field, off the field ... it is going to have to happen. We are going to find a way whether it is in the meeting room, whether it is off the field."
Mundy has experience stepping in for injured starters. He played behind Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark in Pittsburgh and subbed in whenever one or the other got hurt. He started five games last year for the Steelers.
“You can look at last year and what Stevie did was nothing short of outstanding,” Mundy said of Brown’s team-leading eight interceptions last year. “Kenny went down and he came in, stepped in and played a major role in the defense. I’m just looking to keep it going.”
Rolle and Brown said the team is still figuring out what exactly the two safeties will do now on the field. But the Giants like to have their safeties be able to play both free and strong safety roles and be interchangeable.
Mundy and Brown are different players with different skill sets, but Rolle will adapt. It just may take a little time for Rolle to get over losing his good friend on the field for the season.
“He’s a physical presence, he’s a smart guy and he understands the game,” Rolle said of Mundy. “We’re looking for Ryan to come in and do big things in this defense. We said that before. You know, Stevie got hurt and we’re going to need (Mundy) even more now. Stevie is not with us and I’m sure Ryan will come in and do a great job.”
Rolle on Phillips: Rolle said he spoke to his good friend Phillips after the Eagles released the former Giant on Sunday.
Rolle admitted he would love to see Phillips return, but trusts whatever decision the front office makes.
“Would I like to see him? Absolutely,” Rolle said. “But it is not my call to make. We have to leave it to personnel (people) and the owners and the GM. I am more than confident they will make the right choice as far as who they want to bring in or what they want to do as far as our defensive personnel.”