Nathan Vasher had 13 interceptions during 2004-05 and was invited to his first Pro Bowl after last season. Charles Tillman is one of the more physical corners in football and tackles as well as anyone at his position. Nickelback Ricky Manning Jr. was a star as a rookie with Carolina in the 2003 playoffs and is currently tied for third in the NFL with four interceptions.
Nevertheless, Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress isn't impressed.
Bothered by back spasms and listed as questionable on the injury report, Burress has caught 31 passes for 505 yards and five touchdowns in seven games this season. He has taken over for veteran Amani Toomer as the go-to man in the New York passing game, and with Toomer now out for the rest of the year with a torn knee, even more of the burden will be placed on the former Spartan. Burress has been hot of late, reeling in nine passes for 180 yards and a pair of TDs the last two weeks.
Burress was asked by the Newark Star-Ledger on Wednesday if the Bears have better cornerbacks than the other teams he's faced this season.
"I don't think they're the best corners I've played against or we've played against this year," he said very matter-of-factly. "By far, no."
Burress seems to doubt the Bears' ability to make special plays and take away opposing threats.
"Those guys make plays [on] the balls that are thrown straight to them," he said. "But they're not just covering guys straight up and just shutting them down. I haven't seen any of that."
"They're very beatable."
Vasher took exception with Burress's comments but is detecting a pattern from his Sunday foe and won't get trapped into a verbal war.
"If that's what he thinks," Vasher said on Thursday at Halas Hall, shrugging his shoulders. "It seems like he's been putting different things in the paper and saying comments to different players and teams throughout the whole season, so maybe that's just his thing. Doesn't bother us at all."
Although Burress is doing what he can to add some intrigue to this important NFC matchup. Vasher doesn't feel any extra motivation to prove his opponent wrong.
"No, I'm a competitor anyway," he said. "You just want to concentrate and go out there and play well more or less for your team. You want to go out and get the win. It's never an individual thing, but it's definitely difficult when he calls out names and different things like that. We definitely see it, but I don't think it changes the way we're going to play."
Burress has a history of flapping his gums in the press, but Vasher was asked if he was being baited into saying something he might not be able to take back.
"Yeah, I know it," he agreed. "But it doesn't bother us at all. We're not that kind of secondary. We're not that kind of team. We're just going to go out and play hard."
Manning, on the other hand, was dumbfounded by the words coming out of Burress's mouth and doesn't feel the receiver has earned the right to say such things.
"He can talk all he wants to," Manning said. "It's a big deal for us, but it's like, what can you say? The last time I played against Plaxico Burress (in the playoffs last year when he was with the Carolina Panthers), he had one catch for 10 yards, and the next week he's at home watching me and Nate and [Charles] Tillman play in the [NFC] Championship Game. That's all I can say about that, but we'll see on Sunday."
Manning was asked if trash talk is a part of the game and whether or not it motivates him to give a little something extra on game day.
"Oh yeah, it's all of that," he admitted. "It motivates us. It's fun. And it is a part of the game, and I'm excited about it. It is a challenge. He's basically challenging us, challenging me, challenging Tillman and Vasher. It's definitely challenging, and like I said, we'll see on Sunday."
Not only is Manning now feeling some additional motivation, he's taking Burress's unwarranted criticism as a personal slight.
"Oh yeah, you know it," he said. "It motivates me, and I do feel disrespected. Coming from a guy who doesn't talk that much and hasn't really done anything in this league, it's kind of unexpected. Why he's talking, I don't know. But it is what it is."
Burress will have a prime time audience on display when he attempts to put his money where his mouth is against the Bears on Sunday Night Football.