Deon Grant hopes for big role Sunday night

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- This was the summer of 1997. Deon Grant, then a freshman safety at the University of Tennessee, arrived on campus as one of the top recruits in the country.

Peyton Manning was entering his senior season at Tennessee as the top quarterback in the country.

Grant said he was "a freshman, trying to make plays off of raw talent" when he picked off a Manning pass in one of his first practices with the Volunteers.

"He hadn't seen me yet so I guess he was trying to test me. He threw it up there and thought he had a touchdown and I went up and got it," Grant said. "I remember he wasn't too happy because he didn't throw interceptions in practice."

The Giants hope Grant can make Manning mad again on Sunday night with a pick in Manning Bowl II.

Grant, who signed with the Giants as a free agent in April, had a successful debut last Sunday against Carolina when he intercepted a Matt Moore pass in the end zone in the first quarter.

Grant didn't start in Week 1, as defensive coordinator Perry Fewell elected to go with Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle in the defensive backfield.

It snapped a streak of 144 straight starts for Grant.

But Rolle, Phillips and Grant were used in a three-safety set throughout the Giants' 31-18 win against the Panthers.

With Aaron Ross (foot) likely back on Sunday, the Giants should have a healthy secondary against Peyton, who threw for 433 yards in a Week 1 loss against the Texans.

But getting players on and off the field is difficult against the Colts' no-huddle attack. The Giants were able to switch personnel frequently against the Panthers.

"I don't know if he will allow us to do that," Fewell said.

Either way, Grant hopes to make a big impact on Sunday night. He wouldn't mind having an increased role in Fewell's plans, either.

"I didn't come here to be on the bench, I didn't come here to be an extra coach," Grant said. "I came to be a leader and the best way you lead as a player is by example so I hope my role continues to be how it was Sunday, or even greater."

INJURY UPDATE: OT Will Beatty (foot), TE Kevin Boss (concussion), LB Chase Blackburn (knee) and LB Phillip Dillard (hamstring) did not travel with the Giants to Indianapolis on Saturday.

NOT DODGE-ING THE ISSUE: Coach Tom Coughlin was asked Friday if he was anxious to see how rookie punter Matt Dodge does in the dome in Indianapolis.

"I'm anxious to see him improve from last week, to be honest with you," Coughlin said.

Dodge had a punt blocked against Carolina, and his two other punts did not have much hang time.

Coughlin said Dodge was working before practice on Friday "on all aspects of his game, so I'm hoping that we see ... improvement."