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Rolle confident that he and Phillips give Giants NFL's best safeties

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Antrel Rolle believes the New York Giants now have the two best safeties in the NFL.

One day after signing a five-year, $37 million contract that made him the highest-paid safety in the league, Rolle said he's looking forward to being paired with fellow University of Miami product Kenny Phillips in New York's secondary.

"I know Kenny quite well," Rolle said Saturday during a conference call. "I know he's a first-class guy, a standup guy. He's a dynamic athlete, and I know we can be the best pair of safeties in the league. We're going to push each other and be a dynamic duo."

Rolle gushed about having the opportunity to play with Phillips, who missed all of last season with a serious hip injury.

"We both know what we're capable of and what we need to do to get things done," Rolle said. "We're both all over the backfield and we're going to make things happen. I'm extremely excited about the opportunity to be with a guy who I know is going to maximize my potential. We're definitely going to help each other."

Rolle, 27, had 12 interceptions in five years with the Arizona Cardinals. Last season, he had 72 tackles and four interceptions, one of which came against the Giants on Oct. 25.

Arizona released Rolle on Thursday because it wanted to avoid paying him the $4 million roster bonus and the $8 million salary that he was due.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin was excited about bringing a player of Rolle's caliber to his secondary, which last season was decimated by injuries, such as the ones suffered by Phillips and cornerback Aaron Ross.

"Of course, he's a Pro Bowl player," Coughlin said of Rolle. He has outstanding range and athleticism. You can see the intangibles that he brings to the table in terms of his communication skills and his energy. He's one of those upbeat guys that you really do enjoy being around. And he's very talented."

Coughlin believes Rolle and Phillips will be a perfect pairing, provided that Phillips makes a full recovery from his hip injury.

"They're interchangeable," Coughlin said. "Both safeties will be interchangeable in terms of their ability to be multifunctional."

Rolle said Phillips played a role in his decision to come to the Giants.

"I've been talking with Kenny a lot over the last month or so to get a feel of things," Rolle said. "It wasn't just about football, but life in general.


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"I know he's working hard, rehabbing that injury. Once he's back, he's never going to leave my side. We desperately need him. ... He played a big part of the reason why I'm here."

Rolle believes he can provide some of the leadership the Giants' defense was lacking in 2009 after linebacker Antonio Pierce was lost for the season with a neck injury. The Giants have since released Pierce.

"I don't want someone to make me a leader," Rolle said. "That will come natural. But it's part of who I am and the type of player I am. I'm extremely motivated to make the Giants' defense strong again. It's a team that isn't that far removed from a Super Bowl. I know a couple things went wrong last season, but if leadership comes in to play, I'm looking forward to that role."

Rolle was Arizona's first-round pick, the eighth selection overall, out of Miami in 2005. He began his pro career as a cornerback, but he had most of his success after being switched to safety in 2008.

Rolle has even been used at quarterback in Wildcat formations, and he threw a pass against the Giants last season.

"I think I can make any kind of play," said Rolle, who was a running back and quarterback in high school. "I can throw the ball a million miles. I'm not being cocky. It's just the way I am. I never deny myself of an opportunity to do anything."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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