Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played another new position for two series on Monday night. As if last season's switch to slot cornerback wasn't enough, he added free safety to his résumé this summer.
New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo said Rodgers-Cromartie, a nine-year veteran, had been playing some safety at practice. They decided to give it a try in a game atmosphere Monday night against the Cleveland Browns.
"When you get into the season, you have to look at a couple different things on the 53 [man roster] and how many guys you hold at each spot -- at the safety spot and at the corner spot," McAdoo said. "And, the more players you have with versatility, the better. DRC is definitely a guy that's a smart football player. He's played a lot of football for us and in this league. Just giving him some experience at safety makes you more flexible and if something happens during the course of the game, you can put him out there and he can help you out in that regard."
The Giants are simply exploring their options. If Rodgers-Cromartie can effectively play safety in a pinch, it could possibly allow them to keep one fewer safety on the final roster, if they so choose.
Rodgers-Cromartie held his own against the Browns. He made a pair of tackles during his time at the position and patrolled center field well. There was one particular play where he came in from deep in the middle of the field and leveled running back Matthew Dayes after a 10-yard gain.
"He did a nice job," McAdoo said. "He's been getting a little work at it in practice; I'm surprised you guys haven't noticed."
Rodgers-Cromartie isn't going to start at the free safety position. He is the nickel cornerback (basically a starting position nowadays), and Darian Thompson is the starting free safety. The Giants are especially high on Thompson and he has come back well this summer after missing most of last year with a foot injury. Thompson's taken just about every first-team rep at practice this summer.
Safety Andrew Adams' spot on the roster also seems secure. He started 13 games last season and will be a key reserve and special-teams player to start this season. Nat Berhe, Duke Ihenacho and Eric Pinkins are also in contention for roster spots.
Where Rodgers-Cromartie could fit is in the role that Leon Hall played last season. Hall sometimes played cornerback, sometimes played safety. Rodgers-Cromartie could add that to his nickel cornerback duties.
Rodgers-Cromartie's ball skills certainly wouldn't be a problem at safety. That's the strength of his game. There is a reason he has 30 career interceptions, with six being returned for touchdowns. Those skills translate well to free safety.
If anything, it's his tackling that would be a potential liability for the Giants if he played safety. Rodgers-Cromartie, even though he's more muscular and bigger than earlier in his career, isn't known as an especially sound tackler. While he does deliver the occasional big hit, the Giants likely wouldn't want him trying to fill gaps for an extended period in the middle of the field in the run game, especially given his injury history over the past few seasons.
But as a third safety in a three-safety look or emergency fill-in at free safety, Rodgers-Cromartie appeared more than capable.
"He played really good," All-Pro safety Landon Collins told Newsday of what he saw playing alongside Rodgers-Cromartie. "I was kind of nervous on the open-field tackle, but he showed what he can do. I was happy."
McAdoo appeared content, too. The Giants may have found additional insurance at the position.