Rolle Aims to Hold Francisco at Bay

FS Antrel Rolle (Andy Lyons/Getty)

For three years, the Cardinals insisted that Antrel Rolle was better suited to play cornerback than safety. That wasn't just the opinion of the coach who drafted Rolle, Dennis Green, but that of Ken Whisenhunt, too. But after watching Rolle for a season, Whisenhunt and his staff came to the conclusion that they needed to move Rolle.

It's not a revolutionary idea. When Antrel Rolle was coming out of the University of Miami in 2005, many NFL scouts thought safety, not cornerback, was his best position.

The Cardinals, however, disagreed. They needed a cornerback desperately, so they took Rolle with the eighth overall pick.

Rolle wasn't a bust at cornerback, especially considering he missed most of his rookie season with a knee injury. But he never looked comfortable there, either.

He had trouble backpedaling and looked stiff in transition. He played with poor technique his first two years and was called for an inordinate of amount of holding and interference penalties.

He lost the starting job to Roderick Hood in preseason, but to Rolle's credit, he didn't pout. He worked hard to improve and turned in an impressive season as the nickel back.

Rolle returned three interceptions for touchdowns and was exceptional in covering slot receivers. Coaches think many of those skills will translate to the free safety spot. At that position, Rolle will be able to see plays develop in front of him and break on the ball.

He's also a good tackler in the open field, so he should be an upgrade over Terrence Holt.

Rolle likely will compete with Aaron Francisco for the starting job. Francisco is physical and a fierce hitter, so the two should have one of the most intriguing battles in training camp.

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