|AP Photo NY193|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 11 September 2008 10:01|
``Absolutely not. This is the NFL. They get paid, too. You've got some elite receivers. It's an offensive game, so absolutely not,'' the Tennessee cornerback said.
Finnegan doesn't need to speak, not the way he's playing.
It's time to stop thinking of Finnegan as the Titans' seventh-round find out of Samford and start considering him one of the NFL's elite cornerbacks. He is one reason Adam ``Pacman'' Jones became excess baggage in Tennessee, and he couldn't be more different from the guy he replaced. He's already being compared to Michael Jordan for mixing a killer instinct with a smiling face.
t career: two-time MVP Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and David Garrard. He earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career this week for picking off Garrard twice.
``He makes plays where the quarterback sees him, and he's just going up and taking balls away from guys,'' Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. ``That's what's impressive about that.''
Cincinnati receiver Chad Ocho Cinco believes Finnegan doesn't get the credit he deserves and is looking forward to playing against the cornerback Sunday. He had a piece of advice for Finnegan to get recognition: Talk at least once.
``Just say, 'I'm going to shut down whoever.' Just say it,'' Ocho Cinco said. ``Out of a 16-week schedule, he can probably lock down everybody he plays. Seriously. I'm going off of what I see on film, and he's above average as a corner.''
Finnegan came into the NFL with a couple of things going against him even though he was timed at 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine in 2006. He's 5-foot-10 and played at Samford, a Division I-AA school that hadn't had a player drafted since 1969.
The Titans made him the 215th pick overall, then made him their fifth defensive back. He had a couple starts as a rookie.
re constantly testing him.
With Jones suspended for 2007, Finnegan won the job. He started all 16 games, and the Titans traded Jones in April to Dallas, sticking with a player described as a complete package of speed, smarts and toughness, plus the ability to play man-to-man and zone coverage.
Finnegan, who has a photo of Jordan taped inside his locker, didn't stand pat. He spent his offseason working hard, and the Titans rewarded him in August with a contract extension through 2011 worth $17 million. His big purchases included a new house for himself; one for his mother, a 20-year Air Force veteran who raised him; and help for his sisters.
But coming from a small school background, Finnegan refuses to become complacent.
``They have a draft year in, year out. We'll take it one month, one year at a time,'' he said.
That may be why Finnegan can make opponents mad. Like the rest of the Tennessee defense, he goes hard from the snap to the whistle. Houston receiver Andre Johnson calls Finnegan one of the most nagging players he faces.
``He's always trying to strip the ball from you or something like that. I don't think that's a bad thing. I think for him it's good, because at times he can irritate you. Other than that, I think he's a good player. I think he plays real hard,'' Johnson said.
to say much, he's just out there playing and he's playing hard.''
That describes the whole Tennessee defense.
This unit was fifth stingiest in 2007, and the Titans want to be the toughest this season. They started off strong by holding the Jaguars to a mere 33 yards rushing in their 17-10 opening win, and also had seven sacks. They hit Garrard so much he couldn't remember being that sore before - in his life.
Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis coordinated the Baltimore defense in 2000 that set an NFL record for fewest points allowed. He sees some comparison between these Titans and that unit.
``They're trying to make a name for themselves, and they got off to a great start. I think the thing is when you can limit an opponent's rushing and limit their scoring, you have a chance to be very, very physical,'' he said.
But for all of the hits on Garrard and the repeated stuffing of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, the biggest plays came from Finnegan.
He outleaped Troy Williamson and grabbed away an interception at the Titans 14 in the third quarter. After watching the Jags complete some short passes on his side, Finnegan broke on a ball to 6-4 Matt Jones and got the pick midway through the fourth quarter.
Typically, Finnegan credited the defensive line for both of his interceptions. No glory-grabbing for himself.