New Cardinals free safety Antrel Rolle (right) breaks up a pass intended for tight end Ben Patrick during a minicamp practice.
Nobody gets Antrel Rolle's name right.
Everyone pronounces it "Ann-trel" – including teammates – and amazingly enough, that's the pronunciation Rolle himself tells anyone who asks.
"Everyone says 'Ann-trel, Ann-trel' and you can't go around correcting everybody so I just tell people 'Ann-trel,' " Rolle said. "But it's really 'Ahn-trel.' "
Rolle hopefully has more trouble with the name switch than his current task of switching positions in the Cardinals' defensive backfield. Drafted as a cornerback with the eighth overall pick in the 2005 draft, there were many at the time who thought Rolle would eventually become a safety.
After a few years struggling at cornerback – and then proving in 2007 with his five interceptions that he was very effective in inside coverage – Rolle became the candidate to replace the released Terrence Holt as starting free safety.
"He'll have to look at things inside-out instead of outside-in, and that's always a challenge for guys," defensive backs coach Teryl Austin said. "There are some things he might struggle with early but I am sure by the end of the day he will be pretty good at it."
Rolle called himself "a natural" for the free safety spot. The mental work is more intense, but he after playing all over the field growing up, finding a new spot isn't a big deal.
Austin sees the same thing, saying Rolle "just likes to play."
"If we told him you are going to be our starting Will linebacker or our starting guard, he'd be 'OK, wherever you want me to play,' " Austin said.
It isn't the prep work that concerns Rolle as much as the absent one-on-one battle he craved while playing cornerback.
"I love that one-on-one battle," Rolle said. "So I miss that. But now I'm the last line of defense out there, and I am up to the challenge."
As for his name, Rolle is less concerned.
"I didn't even know (how it was pronounced) until I was 7," he admitted.
A NEW FULLBACK?
Second-year fullback Tim Castille, whom coach Ken Whisenhunt had praised recently for bulking up in the offseason, has been running as the starter ahead of veteran Terrelle Smith. Castille was an undrafted rookie at this time last year.
Whisenhunt cautioned that it was still early, and Castille sounded cautiously optimistic while acknowledging he was "kind of surprised" to be first-string.
"I didn't expect them to have that much faith in me right now," Castille said. "But I guess I showed what I needed to.
"This is just glorified practice. We're not really blocking. Everybody looks good right now. I think I look great out here right now running around. … It's about taking advantage of the momentum I have. It's up to me not to blow this opportunity. They let the door open, I want to kick that thing down."
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he wasn't sure yet whether second-round draft pick Calais Campbell will play inside on the defensive line or outside, with a decision likely to wait until the players put pads on in training camp. …
Whisenhunt said he thought his team had a lot of energy in Saturday morning's practice, perhaps because of the few thousand spectators on hand for Fan Fest.
"It's always nice to have a crowd cheering for you," Whisenhunt said. "I don't know if it inspired our players but it made it feel more like a regular-season type of practice or game." …
Receiver Jerheme Urban sat out with a sore foot.
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 5/3/08.