A few months ago, Bucs cornerback Dee Delaney was wondering if he would ever play football again. Seven weeks ago, Delaney didn’t even know if he’d make the Bucs roster out of training camp. Now he’s doing both, in a far bigger capacity than he ever could have thought possible. Delaney has catapulted from a feel-good story to a potential starting corner in an injury-filled secondary on the Super Bowl champions. What a whirlwind.
The Bucs have been ravaged by injuries at corner with Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting on injured reserve. To add, uh, injury to injury, newly acquired cornerback Richard Sherman is now out with a hamstring injury.
That leaves just Delaney, Ross Cockrell and Pierre Desir outside of Dean.
Sherman happened to pull his hamstring on the opening series of the Bucs’ Thursday night win against the Eagles, which unexpectedly put Delaney right into the mix as a needed contributor to an ailing defense. He held his own, making two tackles and not allowing any big plays down the field.
Bucs CB Dee Delaney – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“I think I handled it fairly well,” Delaney said. “Just going in and doing my job. Don’t do too much, but just do enough to help the team. Coach Rock’ (Kevin Ross), he told us in training camp like, ‘One thing about this team is you never know. You’ve just got to all be ready. Practice like you’re the next man up.’ That’s how you’ve got to prepare each and every day.”
Now, knowing all week he could play a big role in Tampa Bay’s defense, Delaney is using those he’s replacing as an avenue for preparation. The Bucs veteran cornerbacks have been consistently sharpening him in preparation for the Bears’ offense.
“Richard Sherman, Carlton [Davis III], Sean [Murphy-Bunting] – each and every one of them comes to me each and every day,” Delaney said. “Even when we’re watching film, they give me little notes to watch after so it’s easier to do our job. I feel like they’re very helpful.”
Knowing that Dean will be one of the outside corners and Cockrell will mostly play in the slot, the Bucs have to decide whether to play Delaney or Desir on the other side. Delaney got the nod in Philadelphia, but Bruce Arians said that was because they used Desir specifically in dime defense.
“Pierre [Desir] has had a couple really good weeks,” Arians said. “We kind of cross-trained him last week as a nickel and a dime, so we went with Dee. But Dee’s played good for us in both games he got in there. Yeah, I’m not afraid if it is (Delaney starting). We’ll wait and see.”
At the moment, Arians hasn’t picked one over the other yet for Sunday, but he feels good about both players.
“We’ll wait and see,” Arians said. “I like both of those guys right now. They both have pretty good roles and we’ll just see how much each one of them plays.”