Cromartie doesn't back down

Prior to last season, Drayton Florence predicted he would end the 2005 campaign with 10 interceptions, having returned four of them for touchdowns. He ended the season with just one interception and zero scores.

Shortly after being drafted, Antonio Cromartie announced his list of lofty goals for the 2006 campaign. He plans to lead the team in interceptions, be named defensive rookie of the year and earn a spot in the Pro Bowl. However, Cromartie is quick to point out the difference between his predictions this year and Florence's from a year ago.

"When I say I'm going to do something, that means I'm going to do it," Cromartie said. "Once I've set my mind on something, there's nothing that can stop me."

After his last healthy showing in 2004, Cromartie was named first team all-ACC after finishing the season with four interceptions and two defensive touchdowns. He missed the entire 2005 season with a torn ACL.

Despite the injury, the 6-foot-3, 213 lb. Cromarite ran a 4.38 40-yard dash for the Chargers prior to the draft.

"I'm still getting better," Cromartie said. "My knee still gets sore, but that's about it. I'm in game shape right now, but I definitely haven't reached my peak yet."

Such a claim is remarkable, especially since he looked plenty healthy during the team's post-draft Mini Camp. Even at less than 100 percent, Cromartie admits he has had no problems with the quicker pace of the pro game.

"Adjusting to the speed of the game hasn't been bad," Cromartie said. "I need to keep working on the mental part, just staying in the playbook and things like that."

Fortunately for Cromartie, he has plenty of good teachers to help him stay mentally prepared.

"Coach Schottenheimer and Coach Stewart, I love those guys," Cromartie said. "They know how to get the best out of you. They kind of remind me of my coaches at Florida State. They know how to get the most out of each player."

Not only are the coaches helping out, but Cromartie noted that several veterans have been aiding his development as well. He said that Bhawoh Jue, Quentin Jammer, Drayton Florence and newcomer Marlon McCree have all been giving him pointers on further developing his game.

But according to Cromartie, his game doesn't need much changing; he feels he is a game-changer already.

"I have game-changing ability," Cromartie said. "I'm going to come up with big plays on defense, and on returns, too."

That game-changing ability is why the Chargers took him with the 19th overall pick in the draft. And if Cromartie is as good as he says he is, the Chargers will appear brilliant because of it.


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