Antrel Rolle: 'I love playing in front of the bright lights'

After five seasons with the Cardinals, safety Antrel Rolle found a new home, signing a five-year, $37 million free-agent deal with the Giants. Rolle is being counted on to help the Giants' defense bounce back from a disastrous 2009 season. Sporting News' Clifton Brown recently caught up with Rolle to talk about his transition to the Giants' secondary and his excitement about coming to New York.

Sporting News: Were the Giants at the top of your wish list even before free agency began?
Antrel Rolle: I really didn't have a preference where I would play. I hit free agency, and I got the call. Once the Big Blue called, I was ready to go. It's the one of the biggest markets in the world, one of the biggest stages in the world. I'm excited.

SN: Did it help that the Giants already had another former University of Miami guy in their secondary, safety Kenny Phillips?
AR: It sure did. Kenny and I talked about it. He asked if I would ever consider playing for the Giants. I said,  "Absolutely.''

SN: From what you've seen in minicamps and OTAs, how does the Giants' defensive scheme differ from the Cardinals'?
AR: It's all football. A few things are different, a few coverages and schemes may be tweaked differently. But I don't think it will be any different fitting into this program.

SN: Is it hard to be a leader right away when you join a new team?
AR: Not at all. This team has welcomed me, the city of New York has welcomed me. It's been a great transition. The guys and the coaches have made it smooth.

SN: How proud are you of what the Cardinals accomplished the last two years, becoming a contender after so many years of struggling?
AR: I'm very proud. I saw us go from 5-11 seasons to a Super Bowl. I was part of that, part of helping us grow. That's something that will always be there for me. Like they say, "It's not how you start; it's how you finish."

SN: After the way the Giants' defense struggled last season, how confident does the unit seem to you?
AR: The swagger is still there. We can't let last year impact this year. It's a brand-new season, brand-new team, brand-new attitude. That's what we're bringing into the 2010 season.

SN: Does having a huge contract put any more pressure on you?
AR: Absolutely not. I'm still playing ball. I've been playing ball all this time without the big money. I love this game. I love playing in front of the bright lights. Nothing has changed.

SN: How much are you looking forward to being a part of the NFC East rivalries the Giants have with the Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins?
AR: Absolutely, I'm going to love it. The bigger the games, the better my game.

SN: For many years, you played next to a Pro Bowl safety in Adrian Wilson. Do you look at coming to New York as a chance to get more recognition?
AR: I'm still going to be me. I'm not really concerned with who gets the pub. I'm here for a reason.  The coaches must have seen something in my game that they felt could help the Giants win. As long as my teammates and coaches are satisfied with my play, we're good to go.

SN: From what you've seen, do you think Kenny Phillips can come all the way back from major knee surgery?
AR: Kenny looks great. He stays on top of his treatment every day. We talk every day. We'll have a great rotation back there, no matter what. But having Kenny back will be a huge plus.

SN: Did you treat yourself to anything after signing your new contract?
AR: No, I didn't. That's kind of funny, isn't it? My family doesn't ask me for much, never really has. I splurged a little bit on my firstcontract, kind of got everything out of the way. This contract, I was a little more conservative.

SN: So many former University of Miami players still train there during the offseason. Why have you been training with the Giants?
AR: I usually do train in Miami, and I love training down there. I've never been with my team for a full offseason working out. But they're expecting big things from me, and it's in my contract for me to be up here. If that's what they want, that's what they're going to get.

Click here to order Antrel Rolle’s proCane Rookie Card.

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