Slapping it in the Packer section since they are next up.. enjoy the read.
Cortland Finnegan seems to adhere to the mantra that his play on the field will do the talking for him. [img_r]http://www.profootballweekly.com/NR/rdonlyres/ej2m3hkq2umk2qx3r5lc5fzns6i35bji3bccheimdqkl5www7ooyubr6ciefdfw4twvsgtvuet4vzc/Finnegan200.gif[/img_r]
Entering Week Eight tied with Tennessee teammate Michael Griffin, Packers CB Charles Woodson and Packers FS Nick Collins for the league lead in interceptions with four, the 2006 seventh-round pick has been conspicuous in his ability to make difference-making plays for the Titans.
NFL feature: Titans CB Cortland Finnegan
Now, playing for an undefeated team, Finnegans newfound stardom not only has garnered attention from fans but also from some of the leagues most outspoken players.
Before the Titans Week Two clash with the Bengals, Chad Ocho Cinco told Nashville-area reporters that the only thing keeping Finnegan from being considered as one of the NFLs top cornerbacks was his lack of trash talking.
I cant multitask that well, Finnegan joked. It was a real honor to get a chance to go against him.
An honor for Finnegan. A nightmare for Ocho Cinco. The 24-year-old corner quieted the Bengals eccentric wide receiver to the tune of four catches for 37 yards.
Finnegans Week Three encore featured a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown in the waning minutes of the Titans game against the Texans. In that contest, he limited Texans star WR Andre Johnson to 29 yards on two catches.
Although Finnegan has had early success against some of the NFLs best receivers, dont expect him to change his name just yet.
Tres Uno, Finnegan joked, referencing his jersey number, 31. No, nothing like that. Im just going to continue to do my thing, run around and have fun.
The humble cornerback rarely talks, but he is talked about. The Titans defensive linemen and linebackers go into their film sessions and talk about him like hes the popular kid in school.
Except Finnegan isnt the class clown, and hell rarely speak in front of the team. He leads by example.
"(He's) just playing with a lot of confidence because of his understanding of the defense, Griffin said.
Finnegans physicality has helped him as much as his 4.33 speed. He frustrates receivers by jamming them at the line. Rarely will a receiver line up against Finnegan and cross the line of scrimmage unscathed.
The only time the feisty attitude that has helped make him so successful caused a problem was in the Titans hard-hitting Week Five victory over the Ravens, when he was called for two unnecessary-roughness penalties.
Hes like a little bull terrier. Hes always going, and the guys respect that, said Titans DB coach Chuck Cecil, an NFL safety from 1988-95.
An undersized football player by any standards, the 5-10, 188-pound Finnegan, who played free safety in college, has a linebackers mentality. He led Division I-AA Samford University in tackles for three straight seasons and carried that attitude into the NFL.
When the Titans selected him in the seventh round of the 2006 draft, making him the first player selected out of Samford since 1969, the Tennessee coaching staff was taking a chance on a guy with raw athletic skills. The Titans were hopeful he would develop into being a solid player but didnt place the high expectations of being a starter on him.
Theres nothing about him that kind of stuck out, Cecil said. I mean, he was from Samford, a small school, but there was kind of something when you watched (him). I dont think the thought when you first draft a guy in the seventh round is, OK, this is going to be our Pro Bowl corner. Just the fact that the whole physicality thing and the foot speed, you thought at worst-case scenario hed be a great special-teams player. Hhe could contribute in some way to your team. Basically, what he did is he took his opportunity and capitalized on it.
During his rookie season, an injury to Reynaldo Hill gave Finnegan his first opportunity to start in a game at Philadelphia in Week 11. Finnegan relished the opportunity to play in one of the leagues toughest stadiums and ended up leading the team with 11 tackles and two passes defensed in a 31-13 victory.
It was a very pleasant surprise, and I think that was the game, in my mind, where he kind of caught my eye and I said, This guy can do it, Cecil said.
While the 2006 season saw Finnegan playing primarily as the nickel back, the suspension of Adam Jones allowed Finnegan the opportunity to compete for a starting job in 07.
An offseason that saw him battling injury and a poor preseason left critics doubting his ability to match up with the leagues top receivers only magnifying the ramifications of the Jones suspension.
But then the lights came on.
Theyre hard to pick out of a crowd; he is one of those guys that when the lights go on and it is go time, he raises the level of play, Cecil said.
Finnegan wound up starting all 16 games in 07, leading the team with 16 passes defensed. He also was tied for third in tackles and added one interception, one sack, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble.
Typically if you hear a cornerbacks name as much as Finnegans, it means theyre getting beat. Most cover men are content with contributing by defending in the passing game and are rarely involved in plays in the middle of the field. But Finnegan loves to hear his name called for making plays.
Watch a Titans game and youll see No. 31 pop onto the TV screen on nearly every play. Finnegan is known for using his speed to come across the field to make tackles.
The play doesnt care who makes it, and I definitely want to make the play, Finnegan said.
Finnegans emergence last season, when he led NFL cornerbacks in tackles with 95, persuaded the Titans to reward him with a new contract worth nearly $17 million. The deal, which includes roughly $8.5 million in guaranteed money, keeps Finnegan in Tennessee through 2011.
It was a blessing. It was like they rewarded me for hard work at such an early stage that I was definitely humbled by it, Finnegan said. Hard work does pay off. Its some security, but at the same time they have a draft every year, so youve always got to be on top of your game.
Finnegans no-nonsense attitude keeps him on his toes and always cognizant of the fact that he has to work to keep his job.
And maybe thats exactly why the Titans coaching staff values him so much.
Ive said it the entire offseason, there is not a corner in the league that you could have me trade for him, Cecil said. I love him like a son. I played, and he plays, the game the way I think that the game is supposed to be played.