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New York Giants and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard agree to terms

by Mike Garafolo/The Star-Ledger

Saturday February 28, 2009, 7:53 PM

Scott Rovak/US PresswireBernard can get after the quarterback up the middle - and that's why the Giants wanted him.

The first two free agents to visit the Giants didn't make it out the door without a contract.


Hours after signing linebacker Michael Boley, the team has agreed to terms on a contract, according to someone familiar with the progress of negotiations. Length and terms are not yet available.


Bernard, who turns 30 in April, should help the Giants get the push up the middle they like to see from their defensive tackles, such as Fred Robbins, who's incredibly quick and nimble for a player who's listed at 317 pounds but probably weighs even more. Bernard has 29 career sacks in seven NFL seasons (all with the Seahawks), including 11 in the past three seasons after recording a career-high 8 1/2 in 2005.


The question now is whether the Giants can also reel in Chris Canty. The 6-7, 304-pound former Cowboy is a 3-4 defensive end who would likely play tackle for the Giants if he signed. Canty is having dinner with line coach Mike Waufle tonight and will meet with the team tomorrow. He's got several suitors lined up and an $8-million-per-year price tag, so the Bronx native's chances of playing for one of his two hometown teams appear to be slim now that Bernard has agreed to join the Giants.





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FEBRUARY 28, 2008


EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The Giants took their second dip in the free agency pool today when they signed defensive tackle Rocky Bernard. He joins linebacker Michael Boley, signed earlier this afternoon, as reinforcements for a defense that finished the 2008 season ranked fifth in the NFL.


The Giants signed their second free agent when they came to terms with DT Rocky Bernard


Bernard played the first seven years of his career with the Seattle Seahawks. He appeared in 103 regular season games with 55 starts and had 282 tackles (206 solo), 29.0 sacks, 13 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries.


“He’s a veteran defensive tackle with skins on the wall,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “He plays hard, he’s stout against the run and he has to be accounted for as a pass rusher. We’re happy to have Rocky on board in our defensive tackle rotation.”


The Seahawks made the playoffs every year from 2003-07. But they slumped to 4-12 last season, prompting Bernard to look for a new football home.


“I was looking for a fresh start,” Bernard said. “Last year was really rough – it was so frustrating. I thought a change of scenery would be good.


“I’m really, really excited to be coming to the Giants. I wanted to go to a team that has had a lot of success and has a really good defense. That’s what the Giants have. It feels good to be part of a great organization. They’re a good football team.”


Bernard’s given name is Robert. But he was born when Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky” movies were popular and his parents sensed a similarity between the character and their son. “I was a scrappy kid, so they started calling me Rocky,” Bernard said. “No one ever calls me by my given name.”


Bernard joins a defensive tackle rotation that includes starters Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield and reserve Jay Alford. Asked where he will fit in, Bernard said, “That will all work itself out.”


However, Bernard is certain he will be an important contributor to the Giants’ defense.


“I still have a lot of good football to play,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting there and helping that defense.”


In 2005, Bernard played in every game with seven starts and had career-high totals of 52 tackles (43 solo) and 8.5 sacks for a Seahawks team that won the NFC Championship and lost to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XL. Bernard had two sacks in the NFC Championship Game and started the Super Bowl and had two solo tackles.


The following season, Bernard started all 16 games and had 3.5 sacks. In 2008, Bernard started all 15 games in which he played at right defensive tackle and finished with 55 tackles (43 solo). 4.0 sacks, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Bernard’s 19.5 sacks since 2005 are tied for fourth among NFL interior linemen.


Like Boley, Bernard entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft choice. He was the 146th overall selection in 2002. He made his first career start vs. the Giants on Sept. 22, 2002, becoming the first rookie defensive lineman to start a game for the Seahawks since Sam Adams in 1994.


Bernard started 33 games at Texas A&M, where he collected 170 tackles (89 solo) with 12 sacks and 33 tackles for losses. He received All-America recognition at Sterling High School in Baytown, Texas. Bernard was born on April 19, 1979.


Bernard has spent virtually no time in the metropolitan area and he doesn’t know any of his new teammates. But that doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm.


“I’ll start to get to know everyone in the offseason program,” he said. “I want to get in there and get to work. I’m looking forward to (being a Giant).”



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