It's common knowledge that the only way for a cornerback in the NFL, even an established veteran like Sheldon Brown, to get to the Pro Bowl for the first time is to rack up a gaudy interception total. So you would expect that Brown is pleased with his career-high five interceptions in 2009 that place him third among NFC cornerbacks.
But, to his credit, Brown doesn't care about those totals.
"If you're basing the season off interceptions then you're wasting your time, you're talking to the wrong guy," said Brown. "I base it off of overall performance. The other numbers are there, but I think I've had better seasons.
"I respect corners that do it all."
And that's precisely what Brown has been this season, a do-it-all cornerback. In addition to the five interceptions, Brown has been stout in run support as always and, as one of the true leaders of the team, he's done it while playing a lot of the season through an injured hamstring. No one on the Eagles leads by example better than Brown.
"From my standpoint, I really don't care if people recognize it or not," Brown said. "For me, it's playing with these guys. As long as these guys recognize how good we can be and what is expected of us - the goal is to get the young guys to come in here and understand right away what is expected of them. And, for the most part, we do a good job of that."
Brown learned those expectations from the veterans who preceded him like Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent, and he's passed that on to the younger players on the current roster.
He expects his teammates to "bring your mind ... a physical attitude, (be) smart, (be) tough, and if you can do that then I'd love to play with you. If you can't do that then I can't trust you."
One of the players who has earned Brown's trust is nickel cornerback Joselio Hanson, who returns to the lineup this week following a league-mandated four game suspension.
"Jose looked like he hasn't missed a beat," Brown said. "It's great to have him back. He's a great character, a great individual. He's been a guy that I've spent four or five seasons with now and we have a bond."
In addition to Hanson, the Eagles will also welcome Akeem Jordan and DeSean Jackson back Sunday night. And along with the improved health of banged-up players like Brown and the return to practice of Brian Westbrook and Kevin Curtis, the Eagles look like they're getting healthy at the right time.
"I think health is key," Brown said. "The only year that we went to the Super Bowl since I've been here (2004) everybody was healthy. That's the most important ingredient."
Indeed, this is a team with Super Bowl aspirations, but Brown won't let the team get ahead of itself.
"The only thing that goes through my mind is that game that day, and then it's on to next week," he said. "That's the way you have be in this business."
Although Brown has a singular short-term focus, he's hoping his final regular season trip to Giants Stadium will produce the same result as his first.
"The one thing that sticks out to me is the Brian Westbrook return," Brown said, when asked for his favorite Giants stadium memory.
Westbrook's 84-yard punt return for a touchdown with less than two minutes left gave the Eagles a 14-10 win, and sparked a late-season run that wouldn't stop until the NFC Championship game.
"I think the ball bounced on the ground, he was a punt returner back then, and he was running down the sideline and I can remember chipping a block at the end of it. And it turned out to be one of the biggest plays in the team's history, so that was cool as a rookie. That was pretty cool."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 2:58 p.m., December 12