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Sun., Aug. 28, 2016 8:00 AM to 9:59 AM PDT
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Team Favorite Bird Makes Most of Opportunity
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The bird calls and hand signals were unmistakable in the locker room and spoke volumes about the man they were intended for.
Bront Bird, a favorite amongst the players in the locker room, came through with clutch plays on defense just two weeks after being brought back to the team after being one of the last cuts of training camp.
“Bront’s a guy that we know is an instinctive football player,” said head coach Norv Turner. “He got caught up in training camp and it just didn’t work out being on this team, but he’s come in and given us some great minutes and great reps. He’s a guy that should be playing in this league.”
Bird was given extensive playing time filling in for Demorrio Williams who injured himself in the second half. The second-year linebacker made the most of his opportunity, leading the team with six tackles and coming up with one of the signature plays of the game by intercepting Ben Roethlisberger deep in Pittsburgh territory.
“Today was awesome,” he said in the locker room while his teammates whooped and hollered his name. “I’ve never gotten a chance to play in this stadium in front of these fans. It’s obviously a tough place to play and is a good team. To intercept a player like Ben Roethlisberger, who is one of the best in the game and has two rings, that’s special and is something I’ll remember for a long time. I seized the moment so it’s exciting.”
When asked about the play, Bird credited defensive coordinator John Pagano and linebackers coach Joe Barry for the scheme.
“I was in hook coverage, and it was a great call by the coaches,” he said. “Coach Barry has taught some of the best and has made a living off those calls. Ben was looking to my left, the opposite side of me, so I was following his eyes. Eventually he came down the middle and he didn’t see me because of the coverage, so I was right there and made the play. I gave the ball to Pags so hopefully he still has it for me!”
By the way his teammates reacted, it’s clear they think a lot of the young linebacker and are thrilled to see him succeed. According to Jarret Johnson, when Bird was released at the end of training camp, it was tough on the defense who was rooting hard for him to make it. In fact, they thought he should have made the cut but understood it's a numbers thing.
“It was really upsetting when he didn’t make the squad,” said Johnson. “He absolutely should have made the team. We were all pissed that he didn’t make it but that’s what happens. We understood it, but that didn’t make us feel any better. He’s a good player and he showed that today. We couldn’t be happier for the guy.” Read