Jerry Reese, the New York Giants’ adept senior vice president and general manager, entered last season confident that multiple free agent signings would address apparent chinks in the teams’ defensive armor that saw them take a marked step back after being one of the NFL’s best units for the better part of the two preceding campaigns.

Reese’s blueprint didn’t manifest as he had designed, as the Giants’ defense was one of the most abused in the 2009-10 season. Going back into the lab over the winter, Reese reformulated his prescription and again dipped into the free agent pool, centering his modifications on the secondary

Although the Giants 31-18 victory over the Carolina Panthers at the Meadowlands on Sunday in the opening game of the season for both teams is just a small sample of the returns on his investments in safeties Deon Grant and Antrel Rolle, the smile on Reese’s face following the victory could be construed as a representation of satisfaction.

Grant, an 11-year veteran, and Rolle, a six-year pro, considerably impacted the game’s outcome, as did safety Kenny Phillips, who had a promising return in his first regular season game since last September after undergoing major knee surgery.

The trio, along with defensive back Terrell Thomas, turned back the Panthers passing attack in the crucial red zone for most of the afternoon, to reward the Giants’ first-year defensive coordinator Perry Fewell with a successful debut.

“It was great to get turnovers in the red zone and make them kick field goals,” said Thomas, who had one of three Giant interceptions off of Panthers quarterback Matt Moore, the other two landing in the hands of Grant and Phillips.

“That was a lot improvement on last year, ” noted Thomas, who conceded that the Giants fielded one of the NFL’s worst red zone collectives in 2009.

“It’s all about building that wall and holding that wall,” Rolle maintained. {The opposition} can go down and drive 99 yards…but as long as they don’t get 100 that’s a win for the defense.”

Last weekend they played against the JV. This Sunday the Giants secondary will meet up with the varsity when they face Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts (8:20 p.m. kickoff) on the road.