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Chargers' Cason: Turning the corner?

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Apr 8, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    TUCSON, Ariz. — On a sparkling day in the desert last week, Antoine Cason came one last spring morning to a track he hopes will be a part of altering his path.
    Even before Antonio Cromartie left San Diego, Cason came here, back to where he’d had so much success in order to have a better future. He came to get faster, more fluid, to do whatever it took to take his fate out of someone else’s hands.
    As Chargers fans envision life without Cromartie and look to Cason’s emergence, it has been mentioned again and again that Cason lost his job as the Chargers’ No. 1 nickel back last year. Cason doesn’t forget that either, though he views it much differently.
    “I look at it like it’s an open competition and I’m going to get it,” Cason said of the fight for the corner job. “I was never given anything in life. … Given the situation I was in a year ago, they’re not giving me anything.”
    Ah. There it is.
    Over the course of a sun-splashed track training session, a weight room workout and a late lunch Friday, definite themes emerge regarding where the Chargers’ 2008 first-round draft pick is, and what makes him go.
    Many of the themes are put into words by Cason himself. They range from the simple phrase “2010, put Cason in” to the more philosophical.
    “There are no special keys to success,” Cason said at one point. “Everyone has a key. It’s if you want to use it or not. The door is open, because everyone has a key.”
    It is also somehow pertinent to note that at various times Cason will quote movies made before he was born and in one relaxed moment during his workout sing along to an ’80s tune. (Picture the 23-year-old whose tastes run more rap and hip-hop coolly singing the chorus from Naked Eyes’ “Always something there to remind me.”)
    And he will several times during the day refer to a verse from the Bible’s book of James.
    “Faith without work is deadly,” he says.
    Yes, he sort of makes the verse his own, altering the wording a bit and, thus, taking it slightly out of context. But that makes it no less true.
    It all paints a picture of a young man with an old soul who is fueled in large part by what others say he can’t do.
    What happened last year is the latest of those insults.
    As the Chargers’ 2009 season teetered on becoming irrelevant, some changes were made on defense. Among those alterations, after the Broncos dropped the Chargers to 2-3 in a game in which Cason and others could have played better, Cason lost his job covering the slot to Steve Gregory.
    Cason believed he didn’t do enough wrong to merit a demotion and feels he never got a valid explanation of why he lost his job.
    He does understand that the Chargers won 11 straight games after that Denver loss and that to a certain extent his demotion was a product of timing.
    Still, Cason steamed the rest of the season. The 2008 Thorpe Award winner as college football’s top defensive back and a first-round pick, Cason does not lack confidence nor acknowledge shortcoming easily.
    The coaches were taken aback by his reaction. The Chargers spent a first-round draft pick on Cason in large part due to his maturity, and they believed he did not show it when he lost his job.
    “How would you have handled it,” is all Cason would say, his accompanying glare making it clear no apology would be forthcoming.
    Despite whatever public proclamations are made, be assured that the relationship between Cason and his coaches remains frayed. There may yet, with success going forward, be total reconciliation, but there will likely remain stretch marks.
    However, no one appears worried.
    “It’s in the past,” head coach Norv Turner said. “… I’ve never had concerns about his ability to play corner on the outside.”
    Cason has said to coaches: “I won’t ever let you do that again.” He has told them there are no hard feelings, and has tried believing it himself.
    Maybe it’s true.
    But there is no question Cason has his latest slight tucked away in that pocket of the mind where he stores so many affronts, both real and perceived, great and small.
    “If I say something that doesn’t support him, he lets me know about it,” said Francesca Green, the University of Arizona sprint coach whom Cason worked with this offseason to increase speed and improve his fluidity of motion, as she laughed and nodded.
    Cason has known Green for a decade, ever since she was involved in recruiting his older brother, Dione, to run track at Washington State. It is the first and most lighthearted story Cason tells about being doubted.
    Green and another assistant from Washington State were in the Cason home recruiting Dione when Antoine was about 14. Antoine recalls the coaches turning their attention to him and asking, in essence, what he wanted to do when he grew up. He told them he ran track but that he was going to be a football player.
    “I’m 5-6,” Cason recalled. “I weigh 120 pounds soaking wet.”
    In his telling, the two coaches smiled, even laughed as they shared a knowing look.
    “It was like they were, ‘No way is this little kid going to play football,’  ” Cason said.
    He laughs.
    “I want to remember that,” Cason said. “I’ll never forget it. But it’s funny.”
    That is the only such dis that sparks any sort of humor in Cason.
    He still speaks with passion of the time he was benched as a freshman at Long Beach Poly High School and didn’t get the late-season varsity call-up he’d been promised.
    “That really crushed me as a 14-year-old kid,” Cason said. “I grew up worshipping Long Beach Poly football. To know I was going to be a part of it, for that dream to be crushed …”
    Recruited by a handful of Pac-10 schools, he went to Arizona in part because other schools had doubts about his size and speed and ability to play corner. Cason had five interceptions his senior season, was All-America in track his junior year for his work on Arizona’s 4-by-100 relay team, and yet he was knocked for his 4.45-second 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine.
    Suffice it to say, he recounts story after story about those years with that same edge in his voice. “In high school I wasn’t big enough, fast enough, strong enough. Going to college I wasn’t fast enough, big enough, hips weren’t fluid enough. Coming out in the draft I was supposed to be slow. Going into the draft, I was supposed to be slow.”
    Cason possesses the confidence necessary to play the lonely and scary cornerback position. He has never believed in what he can’t do, only what he can.
    A brief bout of “wondering whether I sucked” after being demoted last season, led only to a renewal of determination and an increased desire. (Another Cason-ism: “When determination meets hunger, your success is unlimited.”)
    That vow he made to his coaches about never letting them take away his job again, he made to himself first.
    “All it did was make me realize I need to take care of my business,” he said. “It sucks to say, but take care of me. And if I do that it will help the team. It’s just a different approach (to the same end). If I sit and think about it … I really don’t care to. It was what it was. No matter what happened, it was my fault. I put myself in that situation. I made mistakes and gave them reasons.
    “It made me tell myself, ‘I won’t be that guy.’ And if I am, I gave it my all and I know I gave it my all. But I won’t be that guy.”
    He paused and smiled slyly.
    “The mind is a powerful thing,” he said. “Now that’s not my saying, but I believe it.”

    Check out Antoine Cason's video 'Run Cason, Run'

  2. LaDeezie21

    LaDeezie21 BoltTalker

    Aug 26, 2005
    Yawn...another offseason article about how X player will get better blah blah blah.

    I want to see it, not read about it. A superbowl win would go a long way into making me a believer.
  3. Chavez

    Chavez Well-Known Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    Pretty soon we'll start seeing the "There's a different feeling about the team this year" articles. :lol:
  4. Sydalish

    Sydalish Addicted to Sports

    Nov 11, 2007
    it's the offseason guys - suck it up :icon_shrug: there's nothing else to talk about right now but "what if"
  5. foober

    foober BoltTalker

    Aug 17, 2006
    Its better we go into next season off the radar and still mad about being beat by the jits. Revenge.

    CAson will be better than he was playing the slot because its his natrual postion. The slot is the hardest job on the defense from what I've read.
  6. LaDeezie21

    LaDeezie21 BoltTalker

    Aug 26, 2005
    Oh hell yes. The more I follow this team the more I notice the same articles year after year. It's like Groundhog day. Especially since every year ends the same way...

    I know I sound like a downer and I'm sure my attitude will change once the season starts but I'm still upset that we lose games in the playoffs that we should be winning.
  7. coachmarkos

    coachmarkos BoltTalker

    Jul 12, 2009
    I like the kid's fire. I'm glad he was pissed about the demotion.

    That's good. Passion, desire, these things can't be taught.
  8. LFEpooh124

    LFEpooh124 BoltTalker

    Dec 4, 2006
    Alrite Cason. Let's carry that determination, fire, and intensity into and through the season!!!
  9. SDDon

    SDDon BoltTalker

    Feb 10, 2010
    That would be a great story after he got elected to the Pro Bowl after next season, but with what I have seen from this guy on the field, he hasn't earned anything yet.

    So what if he has been too small, too slow, and why didn't he take Cro's job last year in the 2nd half of the season if he is truly ready to do so now.

    Has he not been paid the last couple of years, give me a break he was a first round pick no less.

    He should be given a shot to win the job but IMO, he needs to earn it, I have ZERO expectations that he will.

    That is why I want us to draft a CB that could compete for the starting job this year, that kind of talent comes ONLY early in the draft.
  10. Chavez

    Chavez Well-Known Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    I know, just having a little fun with it.

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