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How Giants plan to use Leon Hall

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants added a veteran cornerback this week. Or maybe defensive back might be more appropriate when describing Leon Hall's position with his new team.

The Giants plan for Hall to begin as a slot cornerback. He worked at that spot with the first-team defense during Friday’s light practice.

But they could have more in mind for the veteran.

"He's a versatile guy, an experienced vet, as you all know, and I think he can bring some things to the package that we can do. ... So I'm excited about it," defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said after Hall signed on Thursday.

Spagnuolo hinted there could be more aside from playing slot corner. A hybrid safety role is a possibility.

"Never say never," head coach Ben McAdoo said. "I'm not going to give you the book."

Is it something the Giants at least contemplated before signing Hall?

"Again, never say never," McAdoo said.

Hall, 31, provides the Giants options. He played on the outside for most of his time with the Cincinnati Bengals, before shifting primarily to the slot in recent years.

He's open to whatever the Giants have in store, even if they didn't lay it all out during their meetings prior to his signing.

"We've had some good talks talking about the slot, and I pride myself on being versatile," Hall said. "At this point, I'm just trying to learn the defense. Football is football, to a certain extent, but the language of it and just the lingo and nuances of certain coverages, I'll have to get. And that will come."

The way the Giants roster is built, Hall is likely to play mostly in the slot. Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and first-round pick Eli Apple will man the outside. But Hall -- if healthy -- should still serve as insurance.

Safety is an intriguing possibility. Hall (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) isn't especially big, but he's known as a solid tackler and would provide coverage help on the back end of the defense, where the Giants have struggled in recent years.

And Spagnuolo has always been to open to using three-safety sets. The Giants did it with James Butler, Gibril Wilson and Michael Johnson in 2007. They did it with Landon Collins, Brandon Meriweather and Craig Dahl last year.

The Giants ran a total of 140 defensive snaps with three safeties in 2015, even though they were paper thin at the position. That was 8.4 percent of the defensive snaps. So there is a decent role there as the third safety.

As a natural cornerback, Hall would likely be a massive upgrade in coverage from any of the three in last year's three-safety group. He could help the Giants with their coverage of tight ends and running backs. Last season, the Giants allowed 193 receptions, 2,068 yards, 10.7 yards per reception and 9.0 yards before first contact to tight ends and running backs. They were ranked 30th, 31st, 31st and 31st, respectively, in those categories.

Hall might be able to help with those numbers, especially as a part-time safety. He wouldn't be the first to make the switch.

There have been cornerbacks before who naturally made the transition to safety. Rod Woodson and Charles Woodson were two of the most notable and successful.

McAdoo believes the smoothness of the transition depends on the player's skills.

"There are a bunch of different types of slot corners. Depends on if they are a coverage player or if they are a run player on early downs or normal downs and distance," McAdoo said. "So it just depends on the skill set."

Where does Hall fit in?

"That's a good question," McAdoo said. "He's a corner, and he has a nice coverage skill set."

Which Spagnuolo might find more than a few ways to work with.