Nov. 14, 2002
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Sports Writer
GREEN BAY, Wis. - Green Bay Packers safety Marques Anderson spends third downs on the sideline, yet that hasn't stopped him from making his mark as a rookie.
Anderson was named the NFL Rookie of the Week for the third time in the last five weeks on Thursday for his performance in the Packers' 40-14 victory over the Detroit Lions.
Anderson, a third-round draft pick from UCLA, had four tackles, broke up a pass and returned an interception 14 yards for his second touchdown of the season - all despite coming off the field in the dime package.
It's an unusual move considering that most teams keep their starting defensive backs on the field in the dime and simply bring two backups off the bench.
But the Packers send in Matt Bowen and put Antuan Edwards and Tod McBride in the slot as cornerbacks on obvious passing downs.
They began using that alignment when Edwards returned from a broken arm this month but found himself supplanted by Anderson as the starter.
Coach Mike Sherman said he doesn't want to overload Anderson, whom he said "has a ton of responsibility right now," and he doesn't want him to regress.
Anderson, whose two defensive touchdowns are one shy of the team rookie record set by Herb Adderley in 1965 and tied by Darren Sharper in 1997, would prefer to stay on the field all the time.
But he's not one to argue with the decision.
"I feel like it's up to the coaches," Anderson said. "I can't do anything but control the things I can and that first and second down is something I can control. That's where I'm going to go out there and do everything that I need to do."
Anderson said he's just going to have to keep making the most of his limited snaps.
"Whenever they put the ball in the air, whenever they run the ball, you can make a play. So, I'm not worried about that," he said. "I just got to keep on focusing and honing down on that free safety spot and just make the most of it."
Whether the Packers are rotating Bowen and Edwards to keep the defensive backs fresh or to appease the veterans isn't known. But Sherman said he wants to keep Anderson fresh and unencumbered.
"He has a ton of responsibility right now, and he's doing a good job with it," Sherman said. "He still makes mistakes, but he is a guy who's in the right place at the right time and has a nose for the football. You overload a young player like that and other things can happen.
"We think we're putting our best players on the field to win the game in the right spots right now and giving everyone an opportunity to be at their best."
Anderson said he's going after Sharper's record regardless of his playing time.
"I'm going for the hat trick," he said.
Sharper would love to share the record with his protege, whom he said is ahead of where he was as a rookie.
"Oh, he's making (a bigger) impact than I did because he's starting," Sharper said. "I came in on the nickel and just played third down. He's playing more snaps and being more of a player who's out there a lot more. I came in flashes and made plays, but he's been out there more consistently playing play after play."
Except on third downs.