PALMETTO -- At 28 with six years of NFL experience, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie appears to be in the best situation since he was the 16th player selected in the 2008 draft.
He is stronger, quicker and more mature, according to his dad, Stan Cromartie. Best of all, he is now with a team that sees him as its best cornerback and is allowing him to do this thing.
DRC and the New York Giants look to be a perfect fit. The Giants showed their love during free agency by signing the Lakewood Ranch graduate to a lofty contract.
At the owners NFL meeting last March, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said DRC would be deployed as the team's number one cornerback and cover the opponent's best receiver.
"He's got great big long arms, he's tall, he's fast, he can match up. He doesn't shy away," Coughlin said.
DRC ranked second in the NFL last year in allowing 44.1 percent of passes completed in his coverage area. He has had at least three interceptions in five of his six seasons.
"The Giants are a team that definitely wants to go after people defensively, and they want me to be on the outside and lock up (on a receiver)," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "They want me to play man to man, and that's what I do."
DRC was in town this week for his basketball camp at the Palmetto Boys and Girls Club. His father started the camp in 1993 at the Bradenton Boys & Girls Club.
"My dad started this camp a long time ago. It's been a success, and I want to keep it going. It's very important to me," said Rodgers-Cromartie, who played basketball at Lakewood Ranch. "I played a lot of basketball growing up, and it has always been one of my all-time favorite sports.
"The kids around here look forward to the camp and it's only right that I keep it going. It's been going for 20 years and there has always been a good turnout. It's a chance for the kids to learn something about the game, and I would like to see basketball grow more in Manatee County."
Stan Cromartie was the head basketball coach at Edward Waters College when he started the camp. Back then, most of the local kids couldn't afford any type of formal basketball training.
"I knew there was a need in the community and that the inner-city kids couldn't afford it. We started it at the Bradenton Boys & Girls Club where there was no air conditioning. It was hot, but that's what I was used to growing up. We moved it to the Palmetto club a few years ago because it was air-conditioned.
"Dominique took it over in 2008 when he signed with Arizona, and he got some sponsors and it's been going good. We just want to make sure every kid walks away with something."
Palmetto, Southeast, Manatee, Bradenton Christian and Booker competed in the division for high school players.
"To come and do this means a lot and we are grateful to Dominique," said Floyd Watkins, head boys basketball coach at Southeast. "This gives our guys a chance not to just be basketball players, but role models for the younger kids. Its' also helping us prepare for a team camp we are going to next week (at Eckerd). It's awesome that Dominique is doing this free of charge. It's a great way to give back to the community."
Considered on the flamboyant side with his dress and new line of superhero cleats he keeps in his locker, DRC should play well with the often frenzied New York media.
When he signed with Denver prior to last season, the Broncos asked him to prove himself.
Rodgers-Cromartie delivered, playing a significant role in Denver's run to the Super Bowl. But the Broncos only offered him a $5 million guaranteed deal. The Giants countered with $15 million guaranteed in a five-year, $35 million package.
"Denver let him know this is a business. You would've thought they would offer a better deal, but you know he is excited about the Giants," said Stan Cromartie, a former basketball star at Southeast and Manatee Community College.
DRC had three interceptions with 19 passes defensed and 39 tackles (33 solos) last season and has had at least three interceptions in five seasons. He is returning to the NFC East, where he played in 2011 and '12 with the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I think the division will bring the best out of any cornerback because you have two or three receivers on every team that are very good. I am looking forward to it," Rodgers-Cromartie said.
Besides facing elite receivers DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Dez Bryant in his division, DRC will cover Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Julio Jones, who also are on the Giants 2014 schedule.
After going through minicamp with Giants quarterback Eli Manning and playing with Peyton Manning at Denver, DRC has become somewhat of an expert on the brothers.
"Both have had great success in this league, but they are two very different quarterbacks," DRC said. "Peyton is older and an about business type of guy. They both run a tight ship, but Eli jokes around a little more."
DRC also stays in touch with his boyhood friends and was glad to see former Southeast standout Mike Jenkins sign with the Tampa Bay Bucs during the off season.
"They have a defense that plays to his strengths. He is a corner who can get up there and put his hands on you. He will definitely support the run. It's close to home and I think that's great for Mike," Rodgers-Cromartie said.