Cardinals cornerback Antrel Rolle returns the second of his two interceptions Sunday against St. Louis, an effort that won him NFC defensive player of the week honors.
Antrel Rolle woke up at 6 a.m. the morning of the Cardinals' season finale at the team's hotel in Phoenix and knew he wanted to watch some film of the St. Louis Rams, that day's opponent.
But the Cardinals' cornerback didn't want to do it on his DVD player in his hotel room. So he decided to drive home, where his parents were staying as usual. And the three of them broke down film together.
"The last time I did that was the Cincinnati game," Rolle said. "I guess it worked."
Rolle ended up with two interceptions against the Rams – returning one for a touchdown – after having a three-pick, two-touchdown day against Cincinnati. And, just like after the Cincinnati game, Rolle was named the NFC's defensive player of the week.
It is the fifth such award the Cards have won this season. Besides Rolle's two honors, cornerback Rod Hood, linebacker Karlos Dansby and punt returner Steve Breaston also took home NFC weekly prizes.
The total was the most for the Cards since the 1998 team had six player of the week awards, four of which were on defense that season (Simeon Rice, Kwamie Lassiter, Ron McKinnon and Tommy Bennett).
Rolle is the first Cardinals' defender to win the award twice in one season. Quarterback Boomer Esiason (1996) and running back Ronald Moore (1993) each won it twice on offense, while kicker Bill Gramatica won it twice for special teams (2001).
Rolle's two huge games gave him a career-high five interceptions this season, and his 231 interception return yards led the NFL. He also had a fourth touchdown wiped out because of a penalty and looked on Sunday like he could have followed blockers to a second TD in that game -- but admitted he had run out of gas and wouldn't have made it.
"I've played offense my whole life (before college)," Rolle said. "I definitely know what I am doing once I have the ball in my hands."
His teammates understand the concept.
"Antrel is so electrifying," defensive end Antonio Smith said. "You know he's going to do something with the ball so all you need is to get one or two blocks for him and he'll take it to the house."
Rolle's position heading into 2008 is uncertain. The Cardinals liked having him play cornerback in the slot rather than on the outside as a starter. Rolle was not happy he was demoted from his starting job in training camp but played through it and said very little about his distaste for the move all season.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the Cardinals will continue to look to see where they can play Rolle where he can best make plays. There has been speculation Rolle could be tried at safety but Whisenhunt didn't endorse the idea at his season-ending press conference.
No matter where Rolle ends up, he might want to encourage his parents' help learning his spot.
"I'll have them break (film) down more often," Rolle said.
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 1/2/08.