The Oakland Raiders starting right cornerback job was supposed to be an easy decision.
Well, so far it is – just not in favor of the player most people expected.
Buchanon, whose rookie season ended on injured reserve after six games, continues to be severely limited with a hamstring injury while Shaw has been impressive during training camp. Buchanon will miss Thursday's exhibition game at San Francisco but could return for next Friday's home game against Minnesota.
The longer Buchanon is out of action, the greater Shaw's chances are of securing the starting job. Just don't tell Shaw that he's merely keeping the seat warm.
"It's not like I'm only competing against my guys here," Shaw said. "I'm competing against all the rest of the corners in the league. I'm tired of hearing about guys like (Miami Dolphins cornerback) Patrick Surtain talking about how Wood (Woodson) is overrated. You've got all the different corners around talking about who's overrated. Look man, I'm tired of being underrated. I have been a starter ever since I've been in the NFL. I can show you better than I can tell you."
Shaw came to Oakland last season after earning a Super Bowl ring with New England. Shaw opened the season as a dime corner but injuries pressed him into more extensive duty and he wound up starting seven games. No wonder Shaw views himself as a starter.
"I wouldn't want it any other way," Raiders head coach Bill Callahan said. "I want all my guys to think like that. That's where you get the great competition. He's had a very solid camp. He's a guy that we rely on and we can move him around. He's got great versatility. He plays the bump very well. He plays the zones very physical. He's a real asset."
The Raiders are the fourth team Shaw, simply known as ‘T-Shaw' has played for in his nine seasons. Shaw has also played for San Diego and Miami.
"Honestly, here they treat me like T-Shaw," Shaw said. "Hey, ball up. It's not about being underrated. I could give a shit about the ratings. All I want to do is go out there and do well for my teammates and my family. When you're out there on that field, it's like you're in another world."
Shaw added that he wished Buchanon were competing.
"He's like my little brother," Shaw said. "I have no problem going to Phil about how I looked or vice versa. You can never know too much. We're ballers."
Shaw also added that he feels comfortable in the Raiders coverage scheme because they have him play more man-to-man defense as opposed to zone.
"We've got a lot of cover guys," Shaw said. "We're not zone guys. Hint, hint, Miami."
Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org