Perrish Cox can thank the man sitting next to him in the meeting room for his early season production.
Champ Bailey has served as the rookie cornerback’s sounding board as he acclimates himself to the NFL, but the nine-time Pro Bowler’s field presence could be the biggest reason why he and Cox are tied for the team lead with 7 passes defensed.
When a quarterback scans the field and sees a receiver covered by a veteran with 47 career interceptions, he’s more likely to avoid Cox’s neighbor in the film room and test the rookie’s mettle.
“Coach tells me every day, ‘Look beside you. That’s the reason you’re going to get every pass every game,’” Cox said.
In Week 2 against Seattle, Matt Hasselbeck trusted his receiver to outplay Cox in coverage, but the quarterback watched his pass fly into the rookie’s hands for his first career interception. A week later against the Colts, Cox entered the game for Andre’ Goodman, and Peyton Manning immediately completed a pass in front of him.
The Oklahoma State product welcomes the extra attention he gets because of his youth, but he hopes his play will eventually teach opposing quarterbacks that throwing to his side of the field isn’t their best option.
“It’s big-time motivation,” he said. “It also gives me more chances to make plays and to change the mindframe of those quarterbacks. Soon that will change, but right now I’ve just got to keep playing ball.”
Every pass thrown in his direction gives Cox an opportunity to make a play and analyze his successes or shortcomings on the sideline and in the film room. He said the more action he sees, the faster he can progress.
“You learn quicker,” Cox said. “Getting game experience is really all you can ask for in order to get better.”
The cornerback gives up years of knowledge to the veteran pass catchers he lines up against, so he picks up tidbits from teammates Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney on how they would play him. Cox doesn’t surrender his confidence to older opponents.
“I just have to play ball like I know I can play,” Cox said. “That’s how I go into games.”
At some point, both Cox and LaDainian Tomlinson have donned football jerseys for University High School in Waco, Texas.
“I knew him from there — never played against him,” Cox said. “I always watched him play and I just talked to my head coach from back in high school — we went to the same high school. I talked to my head coach yesterday and he just thinks it’ll be a great game. This is my first time playing him, so I’ve just got to say poised, just like I do on the outside.”
Cox said he’s talked with Tomlinson when the running back would return to Waco to run football camps. The rookie looks up to Tomlinson, but he won’t take it easy on the running back once the whistle blows.
“This is all competition,” Cox said. “Whatever happens on the field stays on the field, but off the field he’s one of the greatest backs that I’ve ever known.”
Robert Ayers (foot), Andre Brown (illness), Brian Dawkins (knee), Andre’ Goodman (quadricep), Darcel McBath (ankle), Knowshon Moreno (hamstring), Demaryius Thomas (concussion) and Wesley Woodyard (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday. Mario Haggan (neck) and Spencer Larsen (ankle) were limited in practice.
For the Jets, LB Calvin Pace (foot) and CB Darelle Revis (hamstring) did not practice, while S Jim Leonhard (biceps), C Nick Mangold (shoulder), G Brandon Moore (hamstring) and LB Jamaal Westerman (ankle) fully particpated in practice.
-Gabe Hiatt, DenverBroncos.com
Below are photos from today’s practice: