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Sam Madison calmly answered any and every Will Allen question a reporter could concoct. They have essentially traded places since the Giants signed Madison to a four-year, $7.4 million contract on March 10. Madison dresses at Allen's old locker and will play the former Syracuse standout's old position. Allen, meanwhile, has signed a four-year, $12 million deal with Miami, Madison's team for the last nine seasons, and has replaced him as one of the Dolphins' starting corners.

"I hope everything works out for them," Madison said, "because I feel it's going to work out for me."

Ernie Accorsi and Tom Coughlin immediately demonstrated just how much they thought their defensive backs weren't working out once the delayed free-agency period began last month.

They signed three potential starters – Madison, cornerback R.W. McQuarters and free safety Will Demps – during a seven-day span.

Demps and McQuarters might have competition from second-year players James Butler and Corey Webster, respectively, but Madison will undoubtedly assume Allen's left cornerback spot. The four-time Pro Bowler was waived, but he believes decision-makers in Miami might've misread his pedestrian production in 2005 (two interceptions, 12 defended passes).

"They said I wasn't very productive (last season), but I wasn't receiving many passes," said Madison, who will turn 32 on April 23. "When the ball did come my way, I made great plays on the ball. … You can count on one hand the number of touchdowns I gave up and the number of big plays I gave up."

Giants executives and coaches can only hope Madison makes more plays than he did in Miami and Allen did here last year. Allen, the Giants' first-round draft choice in 2001, didn't intercept a pass last season. He did defend 11 passes, but his inability to secure even balls that were thrown right at him limited Allen to only eight interceptions in five seasons as a Giant.

"Creating turnovers and getting the ball back to the offense," Madison said. "That's what I'm trying to do."

Madison, the Dolphins' second-round draft choice in 1997, could help fill the secondary's leadership void created when free safety Brent Alexander was released earlier in the offseason.

"In Sam Madison we have a proven veteran who has been an outstanding challenging corner his entire career," Coughlin said. "We think he is an outstanding fit for our team."

The Giants' second starting corner has not been identified, though.

Webster, a second-round draft choice out of LSU last year, started two games opposite Allen as a rookie. Inconsistent Curtis Deloatch, however, started 13 games and served as the primary replacement for injured Will Peterson, who will attempt to return from a debilitating back injury. If McQuarters has his way, though, Webster and Deloatch will wind up competing for the nickel back job.

"You get in where you fit in," said McQuarters, who signed a three-year, $6 million contract on March 16. "They're not going to give me the job. But I'm competing for the starting position. You don't have to compete for backup positions."

The 5-10, 195-pound McQuarters, San Francisco's first-round pick in 1998, started 11 games last season for Detroit, with which he signed just before training camp began. McQuarters contemplated signing with the Giants last year as well, and the former Chicago Bear was appreciative of their renewed interest once he hit the free-agent market again.

Coughlin appreciates that McQuarters can return punts and kicks, in addition to playing multiple roles in the defensive backfield. McQuarters made 11 starts at corner for the Lions last year, but also averaged 23.8 yards on 16 kickoff returns and 11.7 yards on 10 punt returns. Chad Morton became one of the Giants' most potent weapons as a return man in 2005, but Coughlin figures the more big-play threats the better.

"Chad has done a good job since he's been here," McQuarters said. "My attitude is to come in here and concentrate on defense first."

McQuarters will welcome, however, any opportunity to showcase his skills.

"Any skill position, I can have at it," McQuarters said. "Put me wherever you need me to be. … I can play anywhere. And don't rule out offense, either. That's not being cocky, that's confidence."

McQuarters has not played a down on offense in any of his eight NFL seasons. And truthfully, the Giants don't need assistance on that side of the ball. Still, McQuarters' mere presence should help push Webster and Deloatch to become better players.

The third free-agent addition to their revamped defensive backfield should symbolize the benefits of perseverance and hard work to their younger players, too. Demps didn't get drafted in 2002, nor did he receive a scholarship to San Diego State four years earlier. The 6-0, 205-pound Demps managed to start 46 of the 57 games in which he played for Baltimore, which perennially fields one of the league's stingiest defenses.

"This is a four-year starter on a very competitive defensive team in Baltimore," Accorsi said. "He's very athletic and can make plays."

Alexander made more plays than any other Giants defensive back last season (four interceptions, 12 defended passes, but his age (34) made Accorsi and Coughlin look for a long-term solution at the position.

The only thing that prevented Demps from drawing stronger interest in the free-agent market was his surgically repaired left knee. Demps underwent surgery on Dec. 1 for a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament. After visiting the Giants, he canceled visits to Minnesota and Miami and signed a five-year, $12 million deal on March 15.

"The things they do in Tim Lewis' defense are very similar to what we did in Baltimore," Demps said. "He saw a lot of things he can do with me, and I love that."

With the hard part of his rehabilitation completed, Demps had been pushing himself long before joining the Giants. He believes he is already operating at about 90 percent of his physical capacity.

"By minicamp (June 14-16), I'll be ready to go," Demps, 26, said. "They might hold me back. But for me, I think I'm going to push myself as hard as I can."

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