Kayla LombardoNew York Giants safety Antrel Rolle and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul are both expecting to surprise a lot of people this season.
Rolle, 30-years-old, is ready to emerge as a leader in the locker room in order to fill the leadership voids left by Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Boley, Chris Canty, Chase Blackburn, and Kenny Phillips.
“I understand pretty much what it takes to be a leader a whole lot more this year, for whatever reason,” Rolle said to the media at minicamp in June. “I think there are natural-born leaders. Some people try to adapt to it. I know I’m a natural-born leader.”
Rolle, who has matured significantly during his time with the Giants, will enter his fourth season with the team and ninth overall. He has come a long way from originally resisting Tom Coughlin’s conservatively strict style of managing, to now rallying behind and openly supporting his head coach. Rolle’s maturation process is something that teammate and defensive captain Justin Tuck has noticed.
“I think he is ready for it,” Tuck said when asked about Rolle’s emerging leadership role. “I think he has kind of primed himself the last two years to get more and more [vocal]. What’s happening is ‘Trel now is understanding the Giants’ way, the Giants’ system.”
Rolle’s teammate Jason Pierre-Paul, who is entering his fourth season in the NFL, is ready to surprise people with his performance this season.
The 24-year-old is coming off of a statistically disappointing 2012 season, had back surgery in June and still has no definitive date set for his return. Many doubt if Pierre-Paul can return to his All-Pro, Super Bowl champion self.
Despite the naysayers, Pierre-Paul is confident in his ability to be the defensive force that he once was.
“I’m going to surprise people that’s sleeping on me, I promise you that,” Pierre-Paul tweeted earlier this week.
The New York Giants will undoubtedly look to both Rolle and Pierre-Paul to step up this season, as they attempt to once again emerge as one of the league’s best teams — and best defenses — in 2013.
Kayla is an intern at SNY this summer.