The New York Giants need to expand rookie Dane Belton’s role in the defense

dane belton, new york giants
New York Giants safety Dane Belton (24) picks up a Carolina Panthers fumble on the opening kick return in the first half of an NFL game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in East Rutherford. Nfl Ny Giants Vs Carolina Panthers Panthers At Giants

The New York Giants defense is off to a hot start to begin the 2022 regular season. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has crafted a defensive scheme that has suffocated opposing quarterbacks with a heavy amount of pressure and some creative coverage calls. After some recent injuries in the New York Giants secondary, a rookie has stepped up to make an impact. Dane Belton made his NFL debut in Week Two, turning in an impressive performance that should entice the Giants to expand his role in the defense.

Why Dane Belton needs his role expanded in the Giants’ defense

Dane Belton had an exciting debut for the Giants on Sunday. In the matchup with the Carolina Panthers, Belton played 46 snaps on defense. He spent the majority of his time (36 snaps) playing as a free safety. Dane Belton also played on special teams. On the first play of the game, the rookie got involved, recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff.

Dane Belton’s big-time moments did not end with the opening kickoff. Later in the game, Belton nearly corralled an interception on the left sideline. It was an impressive play where Belton, playing as a free safety, covered two routes and rotated to the sideline, breaking on the ball and nearly snagging a pick.

The Giants drafted a playmaker in Dane Belton. During his collegiate career, Belton had a knack for getting his hands on the football. He totaled five interceptions in the 2021 season and seven pass breakups. This Saturday trend continued on Sunday as Belton recovered a fumble and nearly grabbed an interception.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dane Belton didn’t allow a single catch the lone time he was targeted. PFF described Belton as a “decent bright spot in coverage.” The Giants needed to improve their coverage on the back end of the defense. Their lack of linebacker depth has forced Big Blue to put safeties in the box this season. But with Dane Belton impressing in his debut, the New York Giants should expand his role as a coverage safety and allow the others to thrive as safety-linebacker hybrids in Wink Martindale’s defense.

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