Defensive backs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (left) and Antrel Rolle, here playing for the Cardinals in 2009, have reunited with the Giants and play the Cardinals Sunday.
Cardinals fans remember Antrel Rolle and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as the young defensive backs who played a part in the team's Super Bowl run in 2008 and playoff appearance in 2009.
Rolle left for the Giants before the 2010 season and Rodgers-Cromartie was traded to the Eagles in 2011, but now they're reunited in New York. Rolle recruited Rodgers-Cromartie in free agency and they share a secondary once again, this time as older and wiser players. Rolle is 32 while Rodgers-Cromartie is 28 and on his fourth NFL team.
"I think we all are (more mature)," Rolle said. "As a rookie and a second year player, your maturity level is never going to be where
it's at in Year 7 or 8. I think that's a given."
Rolle has been with the Giants for five seasons now, and doesn't make trips out to Arizona because he is an East Coast guy who likes "to keep it local." But he said the memories and relationships he made in Arizona are long-lasting.
"It's the first team you were drafted to," Rolle said. "You built a lot of friendships and a lot of camaraderie with the guys and the players there. I still keep in contact with a lot of them. Obviously, there are things I'm going to miss about living out there and things I have missed about living out there, but you move on. You move and you grow and you leave the past in the past."
Rodgers-Cromartie and Rolle are joined by another player with ties to Arizona – cornerback Prince Amukamara, who went to high school in Glendale. The secondary had a slow start in a 35-14 loss to the Lions on Monday, but the group is intent on bouncing back against the Cardinals.
Rodgers-Cromartie had trouble defending wide receiver Calvin Johnson in that one, but coach Tom Coughlin has been pleased with how he's fitting in.
"We gave him the most difficult assignment the other night playing against a very, very good player, but he's come in here and gone to work and rolled up his sleeves," Coughlin said. "He's a very knowledgeable and likeable young man. He's done a good job of adjusting."
A FELLS REUNION IN NEW YORK
With a three-year age gap, Darren Fells and his older brother, Daniel, never played in a football game together growing up. Their first time will now come in the NFL.
Daniel Fells, a tight end for the Giants, caught one pass for seven yards in the season opener against the Lions. Darren is the
Cardinals' fourth tight end and was inactive against the Chargers but could be a candidate for playing time if the team doesn't carry two punters this week.
Darren, a former professional basketball player, is shocked at how the stars have aligned for him.
"I never thought, for one, I'd get in the league this year, and two, end up playing against my brother," he said.
Darren's girlfriend will make the trip to New York while Daniel's wife and her family will also be in attendance. Darren said he's already gotten a number of phone calls from friends who said they will be tuning into the game.
The brothers are hoping to grab lunch together the day before the game, and then will meet up briefly postgame before the Cardinals board their flight back to Arizona.
"Everybody's saying, you need to get a picture because you never know if this will ever happen again," Darren Fells said.
ELLINGTON MISSES PRACTICE, BUT PROGRESSING
Running back Andre Ellington (foot) wore a boot and did not practice Wednesday, which had been the plan previously. Arians is encouraged with his progress and Ellington may practice Thursday.
"A lot less sore than he thought he was going to be," Arians said. "It's much better than we hoped."
Defensive end Frostee Rucker (calf) did not practice and is doubtful for the game.
"That thing has been lingering for a while and we don't want it to be a season-long thing, so we'll watch it," Arians said.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu continues to practice, but his status for the Giants game is still cloudy. Even though there are only two more games before the bye week, that extra week of rest won't change the Cardinals' thinking on his availability.
"If he's ready to go for San Francisco (in Week 3), he'll be out there," Arians said. "If he's ready for New York, we'll determine that Friday. He's getting very, very close."
Punter Dave Zastudil (groin) was limited in practice after missing the opener, as were quarterback Carson Palmer (right shoulder), guard Paul Fanaika (knee) and safety Rashad Johnson (ankle).
For the Giants, wide receiver Odell Beckham (hamstring), tackle James Brewer (back), defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (hip), linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring), defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (ankle) and punter Steve Weatherford (left ankle) did not practice. Linebacker Jon Beason (foot) and tackle Charles Brown (shoulder) were limited.
Images of the top 10 shots from the Cardinals-Chargers game on Monday night