"Big-time players make big-time plays."
That's what Desmond King said after fiercely batting down a few passes at the joint practice with the Rams on August 9. In Sunday's preseason opener, King put that mantra to use.
Although the 48-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks wasn't a positive for the team's first 2017 game-action, King's play was. The rookie had an interception and forced a fumble in his NFL debut.
"I felt really good," King said after the game. "My teammates kept me in the game and told me I needed to go out there and make plays. (They told me,) 'You know what you do, so just go and do what you do best and your game will speak for itself.' I just went out there, did what I needed to do and made plays on the ball."
In the third quarter, Seahawks quarterback Trevone Boykin stepped back and lobbed a pass in the direction of receiver Cyril Grayson. It was then that King spotted the ball mid-air and cut in front of Grayson to make the interception.
Later in the fourth quarter, QB Austin Davis tossed a short pass to running back Tre Madden. Madden took the ball up the left sideline until King, in hot pursuit, chased him down and punched the ball out of the running back's arm. Although the ball was fumbled out of bounds, King's hustle prevented a would-be touchdown.
Along with the forced fumble and interception, he finished the game with three total tackles and one pass defensed.
Although he performed well in his first outing, King knows his play, and that of the defense, can only go up from here. As the team gets ready for next week's game against the New Orleans Saints, the rookie believes the biggest thing the defense has to work on is communication.
"On the defensive side, we have young guys in the secondary (and) young guys at linebacker so we have to work more at that at practice; the communication part and stress that each and every day…. Communication plays a big part in the defense. That is something that we have to really work on with the younger guys. We all need help; even I do at that. I feel like each and every day we're going to get better at it."
Despite being a rookie, post-game, King sounded like a seasoned veteran. He chalks his maturity up to his position and added that he will do his part to make the defense unstoppable come Sundays.
"As a free safety, you're kind of like the captain of the secondary. You're making all the checks, all the calls back there and trying to get everybody lined up. That's something that I will have to work on. (But) what will make the defense better and make me better is getting the whole defense on the same connection level as well."