It really is not a half-Baked idea.
The Giants’ decision to rotate DeAndre Baker and Sam Beal is unusual in the NFL. Starting cornerbacks, especially first-round draft picks, rarely come off the field. But this always was the Giants’ plan for Baker, who started Week 1 on the bench and rotated in behind Antonio Hamilton.
Hamilton has taken just nine defensive snaps since struggling in the season-opener, and the scrapped plan forced Baker into a bigger role than he could handle. The Giants couldn’t go this route sooner because Beal missed the first 25 games of his career due to injuries, before debuting Nov. 10.
“It’s real humbling,” Beal said. “The grind was long and treacherous, but the time spent was worth it. I’ve brought a different body, my speed, and I bring a little aggression out there.”
Pro Football Focus ranks Baker as the worst starting cornerback in the NFL, but also gave him his highest single-game grade of the season last week, when he did not allow a completion on two targets against the Bears. He did not treat his decreased role like a benching.
The Giants liked the results — Baker played 46 snaps to Beal’s 27 — so coach Pat Shurmur is sticking with a rotation opposite Janoris Jenkins, with Corey Ballentine or Grant Haley in the slot.
“We’ve got good players and he needs to get some reps,” Baker told The Post. “Everybody should get an opportunity. I wasn’t down. I was rooting him on when he was making plays.”
The opportunity for an in-game reset and a different vantage point could help two young players. They could be the Giants’ starting duo next season if Jenkins is a salary-cap casualty.
“It always helps when you can get an outside view,” Beal said. “We get coaching from our coaches on the tablet, but sometimes Baker sees something and will tell me about it. Nobody wants to get beat.”
For the opposing receiver, it’s facing different style coverages from drive to drive even if similar man-to-man schemes. The 6-foot-1 Beal is lankier and quicker. The 5-foot-11 Baker uses his hands more.
“Beal’s style is different than mine, and we’ve got two different skill sets,” Baker said. “You always stay prepared for when your number is called. I was watching everything as if I was in the game, still making the calls.”
Now, here comes Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has seen all there all there is to see — including plenty of Jenkins and fellow veteran safety Antoine Bethea.
“We’re not trying to surprise anybody with the rotation we have,” Jenkins said. “It’s going to be tough, including for me and A.B. He is a spectacular quarterback who can make every throw, audible on his own, make every check because he knows what coverage you are in, and is ready to scramble.”
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