GLENDALE, Ariz. – Jerraud Powers isn’t the smallest cornerback in the NFL, but he still fields questions about his size.
Does it impact his durability? Does it affect his ability to tackle? Does it make it harder to cover big receivers?
“If you look around the league lately, there may be a trend toward taller corners like Seattle with (6-3 Richard) Sherman and (6-4 Brandon) Browner, but if you look at the history, it’s always been the 5-10 guy or even shorter,” said Powers, who is generously listed at 5-10. “You still don’t see too many Patrick Petersons out there, so if you’ve got ability and you can play, they can’t deny you because of your size.”
Size wasn’t a consideration for Cardinals coach Bruce Arians when he pushed management to sign Powers in the offseason to a three-year, $10.5 million deal. Nor was Powers’ injury history, even though he’s played in just 42 of a possible 64 NFL games due to an assortment of injuries.
“Sometimes, it’s just bad luck,” Arians said. “He plays extremely hard and plays physical and things can happen, but what he brings to your football team way outweighs that problem.”
What Arians believes he brings, some of which Powers has already shown in training camp, is play-making ability. He forced a fumble and had an interception in Saturday’s win over Dallas, he’s been around the ball throughout camp and Arians credits him with turning around Indianapolis’ season with a key interception in a Week 5 win over Green Bay while both were with the Colts last year.
“He knows what you’re trying to do to him and how you’re trying to attack him and he plays accordingly,” cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross said. “If he gets beat on a route it’s going to be hard to get that again because he’s smart. He plays to his help and he knows where it is all the time.”
Powers also possesses some of the off-field attributes Arians covets, exemplified by the fact that he was the only injured Colt last season to travel with the team.
“He had a clipboard and he was coaching, and his leadership was something I valued,” Arians said. “I leaned on him a lot. He was the type of guy I wanted to put in this locker room.”
Ross said that ingredient is especially vital with the younger players.
“A lot of times, players don’t want to ask coaches questions because it looks like they’re in a bind or haven’t been studying,” Ross said. “Ask (Jerraud) a question and you’ll get the right answer.”
Powers knows the questions about his durability will linger. When you haven’t played a complete season, it’s logical, even if it’s misunderstood.
“The thing about that is I haven’t had an injury that throws up a red flag or concerns anybody, long-term,” he said. “I haven’t had an injury where I was trying to tackle somebody bigger than me or anything like that where my body couldn’t handle it.
“One year, I reach out for a tackle, hit a guy’s shin and my forearm breaks. Last year, I plant to break on a ball and my toe ligament slightly tears. It’s been freak plays, all of it.”
It is all but acknowledged that Powers will start alongside Patrick Peterson this season, but the depth Arians believes the Cardinals have built at cornerback could allow the secondary to stay fresh and less susceptible to injury.
That sounds great to Powers, who has already struck up a wager with Peterson, whom he has known since their SEC days — Peterson at LSU, Powers at Auburn.
“Patrick’s the guy here, and everybody knows that. He’s a hell of a corner and he’s earned that right,” Powers said. “But I’m still going to try to make more plays than Patrick out there. I always tell him I’m going to be the best cornerback on this team this year, but he’s not going to back down.
“He’s already told me the number of picks he’s going to have and TDs. We’ll see … “