Raiders cornerback Phillip Adams has been in the NFL for three seasons but has never once started a game. That will change on Sunday when he is expected to get the first start of his career replacing the recently released Ron Bartell.
Adams was originally chosen in the seventh round of the draft out of South Carolina State by the San Francisco 49ers. He made the team out of camp and played in 15 games his rookie season. But when new coach Jim Harbaugh came onboard, Adams wasn't part of the plans and didn't make the roster.
His second season, he spent part of the season with the Patriots and played in six games before they cut him. Then he joined the Seahawks near the end of the season and played in one game. The Seahawks brought him back to training camp prior to this season but he didn't make the team's final roster.
He was seen as more of a return man than anything and with Jacoby Ford being out for the season, the Raiders were in the market for a return man so they signed Adams. Much to their delight, he has worked his way into one of their more promising young players at corner. So much so that they have released two other corners who were originally pegged to play ahead of him.
Adams has played in 34 games in his three seasons in the NFL so it is a bit surprising this will be his first start. When I asked him if he had a chip on his shoulder that three former teams had given up on him, he just looked at me, smiled, and chuckled a little saying "I'll let you answer that." In other words, you bet he does. But he is not one to say so.
"I feel like I gotta do my job every day," Adams added. "I feel like I'm obligated to do my job. I owe my teammates to do my job. And that's what I try to do. Nothing... real. I'm gonna tell you how it is but I feel like that is my job every day to help them out to put our offense in the best position and our defense in the best spots possible."
Adams has stepped in for the starter the past two games and has played tremendously well. Two weeks ago, Ron Bartell was benched for being out of position or just plain burnt on several plays and it was Adams who was called upon to take his place. On his very first series, he had a fantastic diving interception.
Last week, Michael Huff went out with an injured wrist and Adams was called upon again. And again he had an interception. He also had two passes defended. And this was against Peyton Manning, mind you. Toss in his five solo tackles, and that is quite a performance.
I told Adams about what his head coach had said and asked him if his sudden emergence on this team is what he expected of himself all along.
"I just work, keep working," said Adams. "I just keep working every day. I try to put myself in the best position possible for my teammates. They hold me accountable, I hold them accountable and I always want to be where I need to be for them."
It may be the perfect situation for him as few other teams are in a position where they are ready to see what they have in their young players than the Raiders. Beginning as a seventh round pick and bouncing around four different teams before he found his place is just the journey he had to take. As he says it, there was no turning point or light bulb that came on. It was just a matter of getting better over time.
"Just being more experienced. The more experience you get, the better you are and the experience that I'm getting is only making me a better player. Repetition is the father of learning so the more reps you get the better you'll be, I feel like definitely."
When the Chiefs come to Oakland Sunday, he stands to receive more reps than he has ever gotten before. It will be his first of three opportunities to audition for the Raiders and prove he is worthy of bringing back next season. And perhaps as a starter as well.