Prince Amukamara's body is a few months behind schedule.
Including preseason, the rookie cornerback missed 13 games and – injured foot aside – all the hits that would come along with them. Since his first outing against Philadelphia two weeks ago, Amukamara's acclimation to the NFL has been accelerated.
"This is like my preseason just body-wise," said Amukamara, who intercepted a Vince Young pass in his debut. "I'm sore, though, but it's definitely a good sore. I like to feel that. I'm glad I'm feeling what the players have been feeling. I know it's not as much as what they're feeling, but I'm glad I'm feeling sore. I feel like a football player now that I'm playing."
Don't get him wrong, though. His teammates had been kind enough to simulate all the bumps and bruises in some locker room initiations.
"I think that's where my soreness is coming from, just from the hazing," Amukamara joked. "But it's all out of love and hopefully it ends after this year."
Amukamara, the 2010 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-American, is also bridging the talent gap from college to the pros. In two games, Amukamara lined up against Vince Young, a two-time Pro Bowler, and Drew Brees, a Super Bowl MVP. Next up is Aaron Rodgers.
"It's nothing like it," said Amukamara, comparing the weekly rigors of college to the NFL. "[Brees and Rodgers] are two of the best quarterbacks in the world, very experienced, Super Bowl quarterbacks. We just have to be prepared. Our backs are against the wall, and we just have to have that us-against-the-world mentality."
It would be like playing consecutive games against Blaine Gabbert and Landry Jones, said Amukamara, who fingered those two as the best quarterbacks he faced in college.
While never playing them back-to-back, Amukamara helped his Nebraska Cornhuskers keep the two conference rivals in check. In two games against him, Gabbert (then with Missouri) went 49 of 99 with one touchdown and six interceptions (one of which was by Amukamara) while Jones (Oklahoma) completed 40 percent of his passes for one touchdown and three picks.
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