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Sherman Absorbs Change

Rookie fullback adjusting to NFL life

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Rookie fullback Anthony Sherman looks for someone to block Sunday against Carolina.



As a mass of red and white jerseys walk off the practice field Wednesday afternoon at the Arizona Cardinals training facility, No. 35 hangs back for extra one-on-one work.

This drive and determination are what caught the attention of the Cardinals, who in April drafted rookie Anthony Sherman in the fifth round, the first fullback drafted by the Cardinals since 1999.

Sherman was a team captain for his last two years at Connecticut. He played in 51 games in his four-year college career and racked up 219 knockdown blocks that resulted in 38 touchdown blocks. On special teams, he made an impact, too.

In 2011, he helped lead UConn to the Fiesta Bowl where he played his last college game at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

A few months later, he kicked off his professional career on the same field, his new home.

The transition from Connecticut to the grueling heat of Arizona has not been easy for the 22-year-old, and neither has the transition from college football to the NFL. One adjustment that Sherman is making now is having only one focus: Football.

"In college you have to go to classes in the morning and football in the afternoon, but now this is your job. You get up in the morning, come to the facility and leave at night knowing it's the only you're going to do the next day."

The stack of homework followed Sherman out of college, though; he did lots of background work before Sunday's season opener, a 28-21 victory against Carolina.

It helped calm his nerves in his NFL debut in front of a sold out crowd and TV audience. It paid off as he helped running back Beanie Wells pile up 90 yards rushing while catching a pass and contributing on special teams.

"Coach had prepared me, and all of the coaches have prepared us really well. If you're nervous you're not prepared," said Sherman.

"I watched a lot of film, studied, and tried to be around a lot of guys that have been here for multiple years and been in the league for a lot of years who understand the ins and outs of this everyday life."

Wells is one of the veterans Sherman works closely with. The positive dynamic between the duo should elicit even more positive feedback on the field.

"Our relationship is really great and I definitely think it's growing," Sherman said. "We've only known each other for about five of six weeks, and I think our relationship is a lot farther along than a lot of rookies with veteran tailbacks that have them on their team. It's going to help us in the long run this season."

Despite Sunday's win, Sherman said he needs to improve -- and so does the team.

"It went all right. There were definitely some first game problems with everyone, myself included. Just timing, different schemes, different looks that we didn't see before. At first we didn't know too much about them because it was our first game, but I think we can clean that stuff up this week and be all set."

Becoming accustomed to the fast pace of the professional game was an initial shock to Sherman, and coach Ken Whisenhunt knows it's an obstacle all rookies have to adjust to.

"We have a lot of young players that are having to adjust to the speed of the game and their assignments and how you have to play. That's part of the process with these young guys growing up," Whisenhunt said. "Anthony is going to be a good football player for us and he's going to make contributions not only on offense but on special teams."

Sherman's personal goals coincide with the team's goals.

"I'm a team guy," said Sherman. "I definitely just want to contribute to winning games. So if I can contribute any way, make a big tackle, make a big block for Beanie, then I definitely want to do that."

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