With less than a week remaining until the New York Giants’ season, Ross Cockrell found himself on Big Blue and ready to wreck.
Ross Cockrell won’t have too much trouble adjusting to his new blue surroundings; the fourth-year cornerback is a former Duke Blue Devil, after all.
While Saturday was a day of roster cuts, the ex-Pittsburgh Steeler Cockrell found himself involved in a different transaction: Traded to the New York Giants in exchange for a conditional draft pick. Cockrell’s status in black and yellow was in question when the Steelers brought in free agent Joe Haden.
Cockrell met with the media for the first time since the trade on Monday afternoon.
“I would see a guy who’s on the line of scrimmage, likes to get hands on with the receivers at the line of scrimmage,” Cockrell said in a self-assessment. “I know that’s something that we do here with (Janoris) Jenkins, Eli (Apple) and DRC (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) so I think I’m going to fit right in with that mold.”
Cockrell, 26, was a fourth-round selection of the Buffalo Bills in 2014, but he made a name for himself in three years with the Steelers. 2016 was a career year for him, as he set new highs in tackles (62) and pass deflections (14). He added 17 more tackles during the postseason, including a career-high 8 tackles in the Steelers’ AFC Wild Card victory over Miami.
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Despite his late arrival to the program, Cockrell, who earned first team All-ACC honors in 2012 and 2013, is confident he can contribute to the Giants’ Week 1 test against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. He has instantly dedicated himself to studying Dallas’ film and has said his new veteran teammates have been a huge help in the transition.
“(Sunday) is what I’m working for,” Cockrell said. “I know we have a big game, division rival, Sunday night. So I’m in the playbook, learning and in the film room as well.”
Cockrell added “I think there’s a balance (in this secondary group), with their personality, my personality. We’re all people that love football. I think that’s going to help the room a lot. Just talking football, learning football.”
Though he spoke positively about his time in Pittsburgh, Cockrell, who had a tackle and a pass deflection in Pittsburgh’s preseason visit to MetLife Stadium last month, was pleased he was sent over to the Giants.
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“I was very happy to find out (I was traded to the Giants),” he said. “I knew this was a team on the rise, a team that was chasing the Super Bowl. That was the focus of my offseason training. I’m glad it didn’t go to waste.”
Despite the unusual timing of the trade, Cockrell is viewing it as a positive heading into Sunday night.
“Because it happened so fast, I believe that makes (things) easier. I don’t have time to worry about this, worry about that,” he said. “I’m here in New York, with the Giants. I’m learning a new system and a new game plan, and we have a big game on Sunday night. So there’s not really much time to think about anything else.”
Cockrell has some experience against the Cowboys, previously facing off with them in November of last season. He tallied five tackles and a pass deflection in what became a 35-30 Dallas win.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490.