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I list Antrel Rolle here, but he is really just one name that stands for the entire New York Giants’ secondary, and whoever gets the task of guarding the Patriots’ tight end duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
The Giants’ defense is battle-tested against opposing tight ends in the playoffs—facing the likes of Tony Gonzalez, Jermichael Finley and Vernon Davis in three consecutive weeks and having relative success against them. They experienced success against Gonzalez and Finley—holding the two to a combined eight catches for 81 yards—but neither of those guys are true deep threat tight ends that will stretch the field.
Against Vernon Davis and the 49ers, they were able to devise a plan to stretch the secondary and burned the Giants’ deep twice for touchdowns.
Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez fit the mold of a Vernon Davis more than the other two tight ends, and if the Giants’ are going to want to win, they will need to find a way to limit the duo’s opportunity.
In the Giants and Patriots first meeting, Gronkowski and Hernandez combined for 12 catches, 136 yards and two touchdowns. The Patriots ended up losing that game, but that’s still too many opportunities for a pair as dangerous as them.
The Giants defense, and Antrel Rolle in particular, will need to be in top form come Super Bowl Sunday if they hope to slow down the Patriots’ dynamic tight end duo.