Rob Ninkovich and Domonique Foxworth debate Tom Brady's MVP potential and whether he is too aggressive with the ball. (2:17).
TAMPA, Fla. On Sept. 28, Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Richard Sherman flew 2,520 mi from Seattle to Tampa. He practiced for two days and then, at 33, was ready to take on the New England Patriots' defensive snaps.
Sherman was told he would play Friday or Saturday. But Sherman discovered that he would be starting in the Todd Bowles defense on Saturday night. Sherman had also only scratched the surface on learning about it.
Sherman stated that Sherman realized that there was no rotation after [Carlton Davis] left the game. The plan was thrown out of the window when that happened.
After being absent from the NFL for 288 consecutive days, Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Richard Sherman traveled across the country to join them. He was then thrust into the starting line-up. Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire
Pierre Desir, a cornerback from the practice squad, was supposed to provide his assistance. However, Desir had to take over for Davis late in the second quarter. He was at that time their only original starter. The Bucs were left with Jordan Whitehead, one of five original defensive backs, as safety Antoine Winfield Jr. had been concussed.
Sherman stated that I switched to energy conservation mode during the entire game. It's not nice to say that you saved money for the swim back but it is true. Because I don't know what I have for the remainder of the game. Even though my legs felt like jelly-O in the fourth quarter of the game, I had to keep going and help the team.
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Shermans first appearance in a 1 pm. match came a week later in the Bucs' win 47-15 over the Miami Dolphins. ET game in Tampa, where it was 85 degrees, the Bucs offense scored three touchdowns in just six minutes of the fourth quarter.
Yes, I kept asking him questions today, because he hadnt played in this heat for a while. He replied, "No, I'm going to get oxygen and Ill return."
Sherman will not get much rest as the Bucs travel on Thursday night to Philadelphia Eagles (2-3), at 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX -- Sherman's third game in twelve days.
He's not the only one who needs to adapt.
Cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross stated that he has never been in such a situation. "I have never been in this position before. No, uh-uh. I've seen a few guys go down. This is an unusual thing. There are three to four of you.
How did we get to this point, when the defending Super Bowl champs were forced to plug-and-play players from one of the most volatile positions in the NFL?
Whitehead was injured in the hamstring and missed significant training camp and the beginning of the regular season. In Week 1, Sean Murphy-Bunting, their starting cornerback and nickelback, was injured in an elbow dislocation.
Dean was out for most of Week 3, and Week 4, due to the knee injury. However, he was able return for Week 5. Davis is now on IR. Arians says it doesn't appear hell need surgery but admits that I don't know how long. Winfield is still in concussion protocol.
Lavonte, their long-serving defensive captain and best linebacker in coverage will not be able to play this week due to an ankle injury he sustained against the Dolphins.
Sherman has had to act quickly. Desir is in the same situation. He was also cut by the New York Jets last season and was called up from Baltimore Ravens' practice squad to the active list.
It meant that he had to live in a hotel and carry a bag in an unfamiliar place, study 3-4 hours a night, and then try to get to a place where his brain and body are one.
It was a lot of work just to go back and forth. Sherman stated that Sherman asked many questions that might have been stupid for other men to ask but which I did not know. There would be checks throughout the week. It is human nature to assume that everyone knows what's happening because we are in the season. It's not like you are doing installs anymore. They would be like, Oh, we just do this check, this check, and this check. Okay, I have him. Okay, great. We are sorry.
However, he has been in this same position before with the San Francisco 49ers.
Sherman stated that it was the same every year. We lost two, three or more guys each year. In the first year that we were there, we lost two to three players in a single game. One thing is certain about pros: everyone can get the job done.
You are only as strong and as weak as your weakest link. It is important to ensure that everyone is ready. Everyone is important.
Sherman has found that phone calls to his children and wife, who were there Sunday, have helped him stay focused and give him perspective. Desir finds it a reminder of what he's experienced through worse. Desir, a native of Haiti, fled to the U.S. at age four. He was married at 16 and had his first child.
Football is simple. Desir shared his experiences growing up in poverty, being raised and then having to sacrifice, scratch, and claw, and becoming a father as a teenager. I look back at those experiences when it comes to football. This is football. You've done worse. "
The NFL's youngest defensive backfield was once the group, with an average age 23 in Super Bowl LV. However, they have grown quickly and in many other ways.
Ross stated that if the group had been young and were replacing young men with older ones, Ross would not have believed it was possible. These are veterans when you have guys like Sherman and Rashard [Robinson] as well as Pierre. They've seen many battles before. They know how to play and what they should do.
Sherman has participated in 156 career games, more than Davis, Murphy, Bunting, Dean, and Winfield.
Whitehead told us that we were all young and needed a leader when he came in. He was already teaching us from the first walk-through.
Dean said, "I always looked up at him as a child, and always tried to imitate his game after him." Being able to see him live is a huge help. I'm a visual learner and it helps me a lot.
Desir has participated in 75 career games, with 44 starts for seven different teams. He's also seen a lot. Robinson has participated in 45 games, with 18 starts.
Dean stated that vets are a great resource for us. They can offer tips and pointers like how to watch film and what to expect. It's just a way to show us the way. That was something we didn't have going into our rookie year. Now that we have it, we can build on it.
Arians explained what this means for the team.
They can see how he prepares, what he's looking for, and how he studies film," he stated. Young players -- The important thing is that you can see film but you must learn what you are looking for and how to look at it. I believe [Sherman] will be able to help them in this regard.
The Bucs (4-1) held the Dolphins and Patriots to 17 points each the past two weeks. This helped them take sole possession in the NFC South.
Ross stated that the whole room was different. The practice squad is also different. Backups can be different. The standard is the same. This is the essence of this whole thing.
Sherman is a great guy to replace the lost guys. This is impossible. It's impossible. It will pick up more. We'll be even better when these guys are healthy and return to work. You'll be smarter. Be more determined.