ST. LOUIS (AP) Cortland Finnegan wants to go back to his old ways.
“It’s getting back being the jerk Cortland Finnegan again,” the cornerback said Thursday. “If you don’t like it, oh well. I feel like a new nickel.”
The 29-year-old Finnegan, back at practice after missing three games because of a thigh injury, has a reputation for being feisty. He’s not afraid to hit and talk trash to opponents. Drawing flags, no problem.
That in-your-face style of play has served Finnegan well in his career.
He entered his eighth season with 17 career interceptions. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2008. After six seasons with Tennessee, the Rams signed Finnegan to a five-year, $50 million contract in 2012.
The move was made to improve the weak St. Louis secondary.
Last year, Finnegan had 113 tackles with the Rams at left cornerback. It was his third 100-plus tackle season of his career. He picked off three passes and returned one for an interception.
This year, however, has not been up to his standards.
In the season opener against Arizona, Finnegan was burned on a 24-yard touchdown throw from quarterback Carson Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald. Dallas’ Dez Bryant scored against him in a Week 3 loss. In his last appearance, against San Francisco in Week 4, Anquan Boldin scored on a 20-yard pass. That was the third touchdown pass Finnegan conceded in four games.
Shortly afterward, Finnegan left the 49ers’ game with a hamstring injury.
“I want to go out there and continue to play like I used to play and want to play,” Finnegan said. “I feel fantastic. I’m trying to work myself back into football shape. It’s been tough not being able to be out there with the guys. Every snap is precious. The older you get, you realize the fewer snaps you can possibly have in your career. I want to make them count.”
After being out of action for three weeks, Finnegan acknowledged, “behind closed doors, you go nuts.” Finnegan returned to practice this week and was not limited in any way.
Coach Jeff Fisher said he has liked what he’s seen.
“He worked yesterday and did a lot more today,” Fisher said. “We’re optimistic.”
Second-year back Trumaine Johnson started while Finnegan was out for the last three games. The third-round draft pick played well in Finnegan’s absence.
Johnson recorded a career-high nine tackles last week at Carolina. He had 13 tackles in the other two games.
“I think he’s a talented enough player,” Finnegan said. “He won most of his battles.”
A healthy Finnegan is “feeling good” and ready to play. He is looking forward to the challenge Seattle poses. The Seahawks (6-1) have the 10th best offense in the NFL.
Getting back and contributing is important to Finnegan.
“You know, it’s been a rocky start,” Finnegan said. “For me, it’s been a complete disappointment from last year to this year. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself. Hopefully, my second half is better than my first half. I’ll tell you, confidence is one of those things you have to get back. I just need to go out there and make plays.”
The Rams will need to make plays. Quarterback Sam Bradford is out for the season. He tore the ACL in his left knee. Career backup Kellen Clemens will start.
That doesn’t matter, Finnegan said. The games go on. The goals for the Rams remain.
“We just take it a step higher,” Finnegan said. “We’re all aware of that. This is a game and we all focus on wins and losses. We continue to prepare and pay attention to detail, we’ll give ourselves a chance every Sunday.”