It's been a while since cornerback Sam Shields played an NFL game.
Back in Week 1 of the 2016 season, Shields suffered a concussion while making a tackle in a matchup against the Jaguars. Then in his seventh season with the Packers, the Super Bowl winning cornerback stayed on the roster for a few more weeks before Green Bay decided to place him on injured reserve.
Subsequently, the Packers released Shields in early February last year. And that led the cornerback to take a year off to get himself right after suffering four diagnosed concussions.
"The concern is over with," Shields told therams.com on Thursday. "I went through all the testing and I took a whole year off to make sure I was right. Now I'm here and I feel good — no headaches, no nothing."
It's been a tough process for Shields, who said he missed the brotherhood and camaraderie of being in the locker room while sitting out in 2017.
"It was stressful," Shields said. "Just being away — it was a lot, a lot on me. I was in and out of stress moments — cool at some times, and weak at others. But it made me stronger now that I'm here in this opportunity and this opportunity is great."
Having signed with Los Angeles on Thursday, Shields was full of excitement to get back on the field — especially because he's with the Rams. The 30-year-old corner said he watched the team play a lot of games last year, mainly because L.A. was winning. That drove him to want to be a part of it all.
"Sitting back watching throughout the season — how good of a team they were. And just being here in L.A. of course," Shields said of his reasons for signing with the club. "But just the whole atmosphere, the feel of the team — it was just all together. Like I said, the whole year I was out, seeing that — it's just exciting."
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was another significant factor in Shields choosing Los Angeles. The cornerback played each of his first seven seasons in Green Bay under another giant of defensive coaching, Dom Capers. And now Shields is looking forward to working closely with Phillips.
"Wade is another big influence. He's right with Dom Capers, those two," Shields said. "I definitely like his scheme and what he likes to do. I definitely — I know that I could fit in it."
Coming back after a year away from the game, Shields described himself as a do-everything player — someone who is willing to take on anything from special teams to defense.
"[I'm] just a laid-back player that when he gets on the field, he turns into something else," Shields said. "I'm a competitive dude and I don't like to lose. But again I'm laid back until I get on that field."
And that's why when asked what he's most excited for in this coming season, he responded with one word: "Winning."
"Just having the opportunity, helping these guys, winning some games," Shields said. "And whatever Wade wants to do, special teams or whatever — I'm here to help."