With all of the disappointments of 2003 fresh in his mind, Rogers had to decide if he would leave Auburn early and take a shot at the NFL or come back and try and help his team improve on their 2003 season and answer some lingering questions about his ability to be a big-time corner for a pro team.
Auburn fans know what the 6-0, 190-pound defender chose to do and what that decision led to for Rogers throughout his senior season.
Now, while spending a week at the Senior Bowl prior to the 2005 NFL Draft, he says that the choice to take a chance on coming back for one more round turned out to be a blessing. "The thing about it is, looking at my senior year you can't ask for anything better than that," Rogers explains. "To go 13-0 and win the Thorpe Award--considered the best defensive back in the nation and have the opportunity to go into the NFL at a higher rate than I would have if I left, I can't ask can't ask for anything better than that."
Even though his senior year went close to perfectly, Rogers has not had a perfect week here in Mobile. The four-year starter for the Tigers strained a hamstring in Tuesday's practice session and that injury forced him to sit out for the rest of the week. He will also miss Saturday's game, which will kick off at 3 p.m. CST and be televised on ESPN2.
"Yeah, it is kind of frustrating knowing that I want to play in this game, especially with my teammates one last time and a big group of seniors that are really good athletes," he notes. "But, you know, considering the fact that a lot off the coaches were pleased with the way I practiced the first two days and said that I would be all right, that was kind of enlightening to me."
Although he is injured and can't workout with the team, Rogers has been at every practice and every meeting this week and Tampa Bay secondary coach Mike Tomlin says that is something he has taken note of this week.
"He had a heck of a day the one day that he was out here," Tomlin says. "He is a student of the game. He has been taking mental reps. Even though he hasn't been able to participate physically he has been locked in mentally. So, that is what this week is all about, whether or not you get an opportunity to get physical reps or not, it is about coming together, getting to know your peers a little bit, some guys that will move forward with you, and get better. And he is getting better, mentally."
Carlos Rogers returns an interception for a touchdown vs. Louisiana Tech during Auburn's 13-0 2004 season.
The cornerback adds that getting the chance to work with Tomlin and Coach Gruden's entire staff has been a big positive for him this week even though he was only able to get in a couple of days on the field.
"They are a great group of coaches," Rogers explains. "No matter what coaches were down here I am just enjoying getting into the terminology of being in the NFL and the style of the game.
"But, this group of guys they work with you and they look to help you in any way they can, and the thing about it is that they push you to the next level," he continues. "Like they say, they are out here scouting us, but trying to make us a better person for other people scouting us, too."
Rogers also notes that along with the ability to learn more about the pro game he has also had the chance to meet with quite a few NFL teams. "Yeah, I interviewed with a lot of teams," Rogers says. "A lot of teams showed an interest in seeing what kind of character I had. That was my enjoyment for the week. That is one of the reasons I really stayed down here to still have interviews with teams."
Looking at how his senior season developed and his opportunity to play in the NFL, Rogers says that he could not have asked for anything more than to be sitting in the position he has earned for himself right now. "It is real exciting just having the opportunity to be out here just knowing that a lot of people would want to be in my shoes and standing here in the position I am," he says. "It is very fortunate and I am blessed. I can definitely say that."