Cortland Finnegan has been a polarizing player since he entered the NFL eight seasons ago. The 30-year-old cornerback has always played with a chip on his shoulder since being picked in the 7th round of the 2006 NFL Draft out of Samford. Edgy, energetic, and physical, Finnegan has never backed down, and it made him into a problem for quarterbacks and receivers all over the NFL.
This past season in St. Louis, Finnegan dealt with injuries and wasn’t able to recapture that same physicality in his play. But after signing with the Dolphins in free agency, it appears that attitude is back, and in full force.
In an interview with the Finsiders, Finnegan talked about getting back to the aggressive and feisty play that made him one of the league’s best corner and wants to set the tone and be an example for the younger players in Miami.
“I’m going to come back on my worst behavior in a very modified way. I don’t want to hurt the team by any stretch, but I wanna show these guys that you don’t back down from anybody,” said Finnegan. “You compete for everything, and at the end of the day when the smoke clears you know you gave it your all, and that’s something I wanna bring.”
Standing at 5’10” and weighing in at 179 lbs., Finnegan won’t dominate opposing receivers with great measurables. But his style doesn’t need that. He pesters receivers at the line of scrimmage, gaining both a physical and psychological edge over his opponent. That approach fits the mold of defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle is trying to create, and Finnegan said himself that he’s primed to return to his old form in this physical defense.
“When you look at the scheme, what your assets are and what your strengths are, and you see if that fits you, and for the most part 98% of it was to my strengths,” said Finnegan.
He says that the coaching staff was a major factor in him joining the Dolphins and thinks that the attention to detail and technique by defensive back coach Lou Anarumo and Coyle will make him even better than he was before.
“Meeting with Coach Lou and KC, man I needed those guys 2 or 3 years ago, or 4 or 5 years ago when I came in the league,” said Finnegan. “They’re just about technique and being technicians, the little things like being held accountable. Some of those things I was missing along the way, so I’m just excited from every kind of standpoint to be a part of this organization.”
Finnegan is in a very similar position to that of the man opposite him on the other side of the field in corner Brent Grimes, as he took a “prove it” deal with Miami to show off what he has left in the tank. He believes that the Dolphins were the best opportunity for him to that, and that he’ll be better and work harder than he ever has before to regain his edge.
“I was looking for the best possible opportunity, and this is what it’s all about. I want to come in here and show. I want to come in here and work harder and stay longer than I ever have,” said Finnegan. “I want to prove it to myself and owe it to myself for all the long hours in the gym, and all the years to get to this point to not leave on any other note other than the one I want to.”
We’ll still have to wait a couple months to see if Finnegan can back up his promise of bringing back his famous attitude and personality, but if what he said is any indication, the man with the edge is back with a vengeance.
“Listen, I want to run into somebody wearing an opposite color jersey right now. I really look forward to it, said Finnegan. “I’m hungry, I’ve been working out with Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty, and they say I have more of a focus then I’ve ever had. I told them that it’s business and personal now. It’s on my mind, and I’m glad I’m here.”
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