Shutdown Corner

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman prepares to cover Megatron; changes Twitter handle to ‘Optimus Prime’

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Megatron vs. Optimus Prime? The matchup appears to be set. (Getty Images)

SEATTLE -- Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is one of the better young defensive players in the NFL, and he's also one of the most confident. A specific kind of confidence one would think you'd need when covering Calvin "Megatron" Johnson of the Detroit Lions, one of the league's most dominant receivers in most seasons, as he will do on Sunday when the Seahawks travel to Ford Field. Johnson isn't putting up the stats he has in the past, but most opponents know he's just one good game away from going off again.

Sherman, who has never played against Johnson in his short career, has aligned himself to the task ... at least from a social media perspective. On Wednesday, he changed his Twitter handle to ... well, take a look for yourself.

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(@RSherman_25)

Ah, yes. The superhero who stopped Megatron from claiming the Underbase. However, we're not entirely sure that Sherman matches up with the name. Per Wikipedia, Optimus Prime is "secretly plagued by self-doubt and a conflicted sense of pacifism that often makes him an extremely reluctant warrior."

None of these characteristics apply to Seattle's mouthiest defender.

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We assume this won't be Richard Sherman's game uniform. (Getty Images)

"Same challenge as it is every week," he said of Johnson before Wednesday's practice. "It ain't no different to me. I don't care who's out there -- it's the NFL, and you're going to have a good receiver out there every week. Whether it's Fitz [Larry Fitzgerald], Steve Smith, Brandon Lloyd ... it ain't no different. Good receiver.

"I look forward to it every week," Sherman said of the challenge. "Get my hands on someone."

And the test Johnson presents as a 6-foot-5 receiver? "Nothing to a guy who's 6-foot-3. Nothing unique about it, that's for sure. It may actually be a little less of an issue, because the closer you are in size, you might move in a similar way to him. It's better than the little guys who [move differently.] He's got a long stride, and I've got a long stride, you know what I'm saying?

"A real man doesn't use 'can't' in his vocabulary, so you definitely didn't hear that from me."

This isn't the first time Sherman has set his opponents on blast, of course -- after the Seahawks upset the New England Patriots in a 24-23 Week 6 win, Sherman had a lot to say about what he thought was a "gimmick offense" run by New England.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was a bit more reserved and respectful during his Wednesday press conference when asked about the Lions' ultimate weapon.  "The problem is that they throw it to him whether he is covered or not, and he just goes and makes his plays. He can do all of the stuff, he's got the whole route tree available to him. Where he's most dangerous is when they throw it up and he goes up and makes his plays, especially when you're defending the play and he still wins. He's already famous for all of that in the early part of his career ... Our guys are tough too, so we'll give them some problems. We'll see how it goes when matchup time comes."

Carroll also said that because Megatron moves all around the formation, Sherman might not see him at all times. "They put him all over to get the matchups that they want. So we won't be able to control all of that. Both Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman are a little different in style, but they both have been effective, and I'm anxious to see them both go against him. I'm looking forward to see how they do -- they have a lot of respect for him."

Well, Sherman is the Seahawks' best cover cornerback, and last Monday, the Chicago Bears limited Megatron to just three catches for 34 yards on 11 targets by running super-defender Charles Tillman wherever Johnson went. Tillman stuck to him like glue.

If the Seahawks don't find success with that strategy, and Megatron has a productive day, we'll be more than happy to give "Optimus Prime" to Tillman -- he's been playing at that level all season.

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