SAN JOSE, Calif. – One chat with cornerbacks playing in Super Bowl 50 suggests one cold, hard reality for the Buffalo Bills. They need to lock up Stephon Gilmore long term and it’s probably going to cost them a pretty penny.
Sunday’s clash of two cutthroat defenses features two of the game’s premier corners in Carolina’s Josh Norman and Denver’s Aqib Talib. Both players set a tone for their respective defenses.
It’s arguably never been this difficult to play the position in the NFL.
“Besides quarterback,” Talib said, “it’s the hardest job on the field, in my opinion. With the speed of the game and the rules the way they are, the talent at receiver, we play football backwards, man.”
So, here’s Buffalo’s predicament: Fresh off a career season, Gilmore will enter a contract season at $11 million. Already tight up against the salary cap, it won’t be easy for the Bills to get a long-term deal done but surely they realize the significance. The 10th overall pick in 2012 has developed into a reliable student of the game, one who anticipated routes all season and helped mentor rookie Ronald Darby. He had three interceptions in 12 games.
Second-year corner Bradley Roby agrees with Talib. Other than QB, this is the toughest position in the game.
“One false step, it could be a touchdown and you’re going against some of the best athletes in the whole world,” Roby said.
Brock Osweiler might have the most difficult job of any of the players preparing for Super Bowl 50.
That’s because he’s preparing as two very different players: himself and Cam Newton.
The first role is a bit easier, because it entails being ready to step in as the Denver Broncos’ quarterback Sunday in case the starter, Peyton Manning, should miss any snaps. After all, Osweiler did make seven starts during the 2015 season while Manning was sidelined with a foot injury.
The second job? Not so much. Osweiler has been playing the part of Newton in practice for the sake of Denver’s defense.
He’s doing his best to replicate what the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback does, but it’s almost impossible because no one can do what Newton does ... except Newton. Although at 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, Osweiler has the comparable size to the 6-5, 248-pound Newton, but he doesn’t have the overall skills that make Newton the best quarterback in the game and the likely recipient of the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award.
“It is extremely difficult,” Osweiler told reporters. “Cam Newton is one of the best players in the National Football League and he is one of those guys that I don’t think you can simulate. But at the same time, I am very prideful in giving our defense a great look on scout team.”
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