Gerald Sensabaugh looks like he’s going to play in Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears, despite a strained calf that kept him out of the Tampa Bay game and limited him in practice.
But there he was last week, telling reporters he was going to play. Maybe it was gamesmanship. Maybe he just wanted the Bears to think he was going to play.
But he sounded sincere. And his reasoning rings true. He said he doesn’t want to miss time on the field with what he calls “by far the best defensive I’ve ever been a part of.”
Asked what makes this defense the best he’s ever been on, the eight-year veteran responded with an essay on what is making the defense work. Here is his answer:
“It’s the mentality. It’s the group of coaches that we have. Everybody is able to take constructive criticism. We have guys able to step in. We’ve been playing without our nose tackle. Guys like Josh Brent have been doing a great job. Danny McCray has been doing a great job. You have guys coming up like Mana Silva, guys like Lissemore, guys are popping up everywhere making all these crazy plays. Just from top to bottom, guys coming in and making plays when the starters are out, and when the starters are in, keeping it rolling. I just really want to be part of this.
“I hate to sit out anyway. My year is different for me. But this kind of puts even more of an exclamation point that you want to be out there playing cause the opportunity you have as a team, as a defense – I’ve never been on a No. 1 defense in the league, but if we keep working hard, I think we can get there. We have a long ways to go. A lot of great teams to play. But just the guys that we have and just the mentality and how hard everybody works and how much everybody cares about each other personally, I think this is the best group of guys I’ve been around. There’s not much controversy. We had some stuff going on. Like a guy I’m really proud of, and he’s really stepped up a lot, is Mike Jenkins. He’s been in a weird situation during OTAs, training camp and stuff. It was kind of a crazy situation whether he was going to be back or not. For him to fight through his injury, work hard and get back on the field, just to see him out there competing the other night, it almost brings a tear to your eye, a guy having that much passion for the game. He’s the Mike Jenkins that he was for us when he was a Pro Bowl player.
“It’s great to see guys like that. That’s what makes our defense. I don’t think we’ve always had players like that, that just at all costs, no matter where you are on the depth chart, no matter what it is when you’re called upon, go out there and are competing and just embracing with your teammates. It’s just a different team. It’s just a different defense. Our team, we’re rolling. It’s just really hard to explain. It’s just something that I just feel. And I say it every year. Every year, I’ve said we’ve always had the makeup to be great. But I think this year, we have the makeup, we have the personality, we have the coaching, just as a whole, we have the work ethic. Guys are really taking pride in their work. This is just a different defense for me, being an eight-year veteran. Looking at my past, I played four years in Jacksonville, this is my fourth year here, I’ve never seen a group of guys care for each other like this.”
-- Carlos Mendez