Making something happen in the preseason was one thing. But getting it done in the regular season is that much more meaningful.
As you likely know, cornerback Sam Shields spent essentially all of the last two seasons out of football. He suffered a concussion during Green Bay's Week 1 matchup with the Jaguars back in 2016. That was the latest in a string of concussions the 2014 Pro Bowl cornerback had sustained, and he just wasn't healthy for the rest of the season.
Shields then took the 2017 season to get himself right, before signing with the Rams in March.
While corners Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters have — rightfully — received plenty of attention as the starting corners, head coach Sean McVay has consistently praised Shields as another offseason addition who has excelled.
Shields displayed why McVay had been complimentary of him during the club's third preseason game against the Texans, as Shields recorded an interception deep in opponent territory off quarterback Brandon Weeden.
While Shields has mostly been playing special teams through the first two weeks of the season, he received a defensive opportunity late in the shutout victory over the Cardinals. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Rams inserted their defensive reserves — including Shields at cornerback. At that point, Arizona had managed only three first downs in the entire game.
Shields would keep it that way for at least one more possession, as he intercepted quarterback Sam Bradford on 2nd-and-8 from the Cardinals' 29-yard line, returning the ball 22 yards to the Arizona 25.
It was a special moment, as Shields' teammates celebrated the corner's first pick since December 2015.
"It felt good. Those are the things that we need. We need turnovers for our defense," Shields said postgame. "It's a long season, things like that can happen. Guys go down so guys behind them have got to pick it up and go make plays too. That was the definition, that's how it's supposed to go."
Prior to the snap, Shields lined up outside on the defense's left across from Cardinals wide receiver Chad Williams. Once Williams' route got going, Shields played underneath the wideout — knowing that he had help over the top from safety Blake Countess. Effectively, Shields finished Williams' deep-in route for him, intercepting the pass right at the blue and white midfield logo.
"My responsibility is being underneath the receiver, and that's what happened," Shields said. "I had protection over the top with Blake [Countess], and we made it happen."
As Shields illustrated on Sunday, should something happen to one of Los Angeles' starting corners, the club has depth behind them. And whenever Shields is pressed into duty as the proverbial next man up, he plans to make the most of it.
"It's just another opportunity, and us as a defense, we've got to keep making those opportunities — which we've been doing. That's the way it's supposed to be."