Shanahan heaps praise on Oakland CB

By: AP
By: AP

Mike Shanahan seems like Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha's biggest fan.

Asked about him Wednesday, the Denver Broncos coach called Asomugha "the most underrated football player in the history of the game."

"I can't believe this guy hasn't been to the Pro Bowl or people don't talk about him all the time. This guy is off the charts. He's as good as it gets. I just think he's the most underrated player since I've been in the National football league."

In a conference call with media in the Bay Area, Shanahan repeated his praise for Asomugha.

"Well, I said this in my press conference about 10 minutes ago: He is the most underrated football player, to me, that I have ever been around. For people not to talk about him as the top corner in the NFL, along with Champ Bailey, to me, is a crime," Shanahan said.

Does that lack of notoriety have to do with teams not throwing his way very often?

"Oh, I know that's the reason," Shanahan said. "The people that throw at him usually get beat. He's not going to be challenged, but he plays 100 percent on every play. He plays the run, he plays the pass, the guy is a competitor. He's the most underrated top player in the game -- I can't say the history of the game because I haven't been around here that long -- but I can say in my 25 years, he is by far the most underrated player."

Shanahan wasn't done.

"I've never met him, but I'm going to shake his hand after the game because I keep on looking for him but I never get a chance to talk to him," Shanahan said. "He's one of my favorite players, even though he is with the Raiders. That shows you how much I like him."

Teams don't usually throw Bailey's way, either, but Asomugha sees on average just one pass a game.

"Everybody has the utmost respect for the way he plays the game," Shanahan said. "It doesn't matter if it's a running play; it doesn't matter if it's a passing play. He is playing each game as if he is playing in the Super Bowl. That's why people give him so much respect."

MORE ASOMUGHA: The Broncos stayed away from Asomugha in their opener, when they repeatedly picked on De'Angelo Hall, who was burned by rookie Eddie Royal for nine catches totaling 146 yards.

The Broncos were missing Brandon Marshall in that game, but Asomugha never moved over to cover Royal. Now that Marshall is back, there are questions about whether Asomugha will switch off with cornerback Chris Johnson at times Sunday at Invesco Field.

Jay Cutler doesn't think so.

"No. He hasn't followed anybody. We didn't know if he might follow Royal in that first game, but he's a lot more comfortable in that right corner position because he can get his left arm on you. When he gets over to the other side, he's just not as effective," Cutler said.

So, what are the chances Cutler will test Asomugha?

"With Champ injured, I think he is the best (cornerback) in the NFL right now," Cutler said. "We didn't really mess with him the first game with Brandon out. We got a lot of weapons. We'll see what happens with the rest of the game plan. You've just got to be careful of when you go at him. You've got to pick your battles.

"When he gets into off-coverage, I think he's not at his best. When he's pressed up, he has that left arm jam that is probably one of the best in the league. He's very long, and he's got a long stride. He is kind of deceptive with his speed. He can run with anybody. He has a good feel for when double moves are coming. He is playing at a high level."


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