Reynolds successfully corners Sharpe
Bucs cornerback Ricky Reynolds was locked on the Packers' top receiver Sunday, and their ace was in a hole. Green Bay wide receiver Sterling Sharpe led the way with nine receptions in a 19-14 victory over Tampa Bay, but his longest gain was 13 yards and he averaged less than 6 yards per catch.
It was the second consecutive week Reynolds had been deployed from his usual left cornerback spot to shadow the opponent's top receiver. A week ago, he kept San Diego's Anthony Miller out of the end zone, limiting him to five catches for 34 yards. "I've been playing pretty good and that's what they want me to do: to go ahead and try to contain their ace receiver and try to take him out of the ballgame and keep him from making any big plays," Reynolds said. "My job was to try and contain Sterling, to try to stay close to him. Sometimes I pressed him, sometimes I bailed out of there. I wanted to make sure I made tackles after he got the ball because that's where he's strong at - breaking tackles, getting upfield and making something happen. We contained him."
Reynolds finished with five tackles and an assist and was the lone bright spot for a Bucs defense that allowed scoring drives of 84 and 69 yards.
Most of Sharpe's receptions went for only a couple of yards before Reynolds finished him off - forcing quarterback Brett Favre to find other targets.
"They tried a couple of curl-and-go's, slant-and-go's, and I stayed on top of it, no problem," Reynolds said. "The quarterback went the other way. We figured they'd do that since they'd done it so much."
But Reynolds admits that being assigned to follow one receiver all over the field has been a big adjustment.
"You have to get used to playing different sides of the field," Reynolds said. "It's tough when you're used to playing on one side of the field all the time and you've got to switch and change your feet. You have to get used to breaking and driving a different direction. You have to study a lot of film and watch the guy you go up against."
Sam Wyche said the Bucs likely will continue to use Reynolds to snuff out top receivers.
"When you're playing a great player, of course that's who you try to take away first and make them beat you with their second choice," Wyche said. "We did everything we could do with that one."
Not that Reynolds was perfect, mind you. He gave Sharpe too much cushion on a third-and-10 situation and the conversion allowed Green Bay to continue marching 69 yards for the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. But in an otherwise somber locker room, Reynolds appeared quite delighted by his performance.
"There was a slant they completed on a third-and-10 situation that I wish I had back," Reynolds said. "We were in a blitz and I was laying back. I felt I didn't do my job. I played okay. I wish I could've played a little better. I thought I did my job containing him. It's really fun to have a challenge like that. It's a big challenge. It's a big compliment by the coaching staff."
Rick Stroud, The St.Petersburg Times 1992