Nnamdi Asomugha came to the Eagles with a reputation as a shutdown cornerback, the kind of guy who you can just line up one-on-one against another receiver and forget about, because he'll lock his man up.
But Asomugha said today that he knew he was going to play different roles with the Eagles, and that he's welcomed it, even if he's still trying to grasp all of the varied positions and schemes he's played. (He said he's played all five defensive back positions -- right and left corner, free and strong safety, nickelback -- in just about every game this year).
Man, defense, he said, is great, but by playing zones some downs and at different positions he has more chances to be around the ball and make plays. (Recall that for all his success in Oakland Asomugha had just three interceptions in the last four years; his one pick this year came when he left his own man to make a play on the ball).
"I enjoy being around the football and being able to make plays. Yeah, you can shut a guy down, that’s great, you still want to be able to make plays throughout the defense. That's where different concepts from blitzing and zoning and all that type of stuff comes into play," he said. "You can play man, there's a time and a place for that, I believe, when you need to take a guy out, but I want to be around the ball so (Juan Castillo) putting me in all of these different positions so early has been fine with me, just something I want to grasp for the defense."
Asomugha said he discussed this with Castillo before even practicing with the team.
"When we came into it we knew that we were going to need someone to do that, someone to help us out in different ways. We agreed that I’d do it and I was cool with it," he said.
Earlier in the day, Castillo said he gave Asomugha too many different things to do against the 49ers and that he has to be careful because "he's human. I have to do a better job handling him."
Told about the comment, Asomugha laughed, "sometimes I forget that I'm human. I think I can do it all and then find out I can't."
He downplayed the idea, which Castillo put forward, that the coaches have put too much on him without the benefit of OTAs and mini-camp, but Asomugha said he expects to improve with time and more practice.
"The more you do it, and the more reps you get at it the better you’ll be at playing those position," he said.