One of the major themes Antrel Rolle stressed was the need to get the secondary on the same page. That, of course, was a major failure of the entire defense, but particularly of that unit, last year.
To be fair, it would have been a tough task, anyway, to get everything perfect given the amount of injuries and the new faces like C.C. Brown, Aaron Rouse, and cornerback convert Aaron Ross that had to fill in once Kenny Phillips went down. But certainly there should be a better chance of that unit coming together now that the experienced Rolle is on board.
For one thing, he's known Phillips a long time. They are both University of Miami products. But Rolle had met Phillips even before the latter's college career started, having presented him with an award at Phillips' high school's awards banquet.
Rolle said he'd been in contact with Phillips the past month, well before the Cardinals cut him on the eve of the free agent signing period. That on-going relationship should increase the chances that the right hand will know what the left hand is doing next season.
"Being back there with a guy that I know his potential is going to be maximized, and my potential's going to be maximized with him, we'll push each other hand in hand," Rolle said. "We're going to be a dynamic duo."
The communication should intensify.
"He's rehabbing down in Miami, rehabbing here," Rolle said. "He's never gonna leave my side now because I'm desperately going to need him. We're going to need each other, and I'm going to make sure he's doing the things to get back on the field and be my partner, side by side."
He was also impressed with new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.
"He's an outstanding guy," Rolle said. "We had a great conversation about what each other is trying to get done for this organization, and we're gonna make a dynamic unit."
Fewell, of course, runs a defense that stresses turnovers. Rolle's ability to play centerfield, roam, or come up in the box for run support should allow him to fit right into that. Even more important for his partner's knee, it will keep Phillips from having constant contact.
"Without a doubt, we're both interchangeable safeties," Rolle said. "We both are very versatile and can handle multiple positions. That will best benefit our secondary back here."
Sounds like he's planning to do a good bit of gambling back there, too.
"I think I can every kind of play," he said. "Not to sound cocky or arrogant, but that's just the way I am. I never go into a game and deprive myself of any opportunities. If it present itself, I think I can make the play."
Fewell probably loved hearing that. For a unit that had a sparcity of playmakers last year, Rolle will be expected to be a sparkplug.
He might even be able to contribute on offense, having thrown an option pass against the Giants out of the Wildcat.
"Once I'm here, they'll get a pretty good feel of what kind of athlete I am," he said. "I can throw the ball a million miles away. Everyone knows that at this point. I hope they use me like that because it creates a mismatch. It can definitely be a momentum-changer."
Solidifying the secondary will be a good start. Everything else is gravy.