"I was nervous in the locker room, but it was so hot in the Metrodome that I wasn't really nervous when the game started," McCauley said. "It was so hyped up and I had a lot of things going on in my head."
Going against an offense that not so long ago was known as the "Greatest Show on Turf" will do that to a rookie cornerback, a position where it is hard to hide coverage mistakes. Making it even more nerve-wracking was one assignment that McCauley had – covering Rams star receiver Torry Holt.
"I was on him on (a) third-down stop, but he's definitely crafty," McCauley said. "You can definitely see why he's a Pro Bowler. I was lined up on him and Isaac Bruce. You can definitely see why they've been in the league a long time.
"Everything they do looks the same. Those guys, it's kind of hard to pick up on any kind of keys before the play because everything they do looks the same. Half the time you think they're going to do something, it's the exact opposite."
The third-round pick has been right more often than not in training camp as he continued a series of solid practices Tuesday morning.
During individual drills, McCauley wasn't fooled by a stop-and-go move that WR Jason Carter tried, and the cornerback was right there to knock away a deep pass – one that he nearly intercepted. Later, during full-team drills, starter Tarvaris Jackson unloaded a pass intended for rookie receiver Sidney Rice in the corner of the end zone. Instead of a touchdown reception for the second-round draft choice, it turned into a tipped pass for the third-round cornerback that resulted in an interception for safety Patrick Body.
But the competition was much stiffer against St. Louis Friday night and McCauley held up well under the lights of an NFL game. A penalty kept him and his teammates from getting off the field on the Rams' initial first down of the game on an incomplete pass to Holt, but McCauley held WR Drew Bennett to a 4-yard gain on third-and-5 on St. Louis' next set of downs.
Yet McCauley seems to take the good and the bad without making too much of either.
"First of all, it was fun. It seemed like every play it slowed down for me. At first I got in here thinking that I had to do everything perfect. When you really think about it, it doesn't have to be like that – just be where you're supposed to be. The biggest thing I got from it was just to run full speed when you're running into plays," he said. "Myself personally, I don't think mistakes are OK, but I don't put all that pressure on myself to be perfect. I guess they thought I played alright. (The coaches) didn't get on me too bad."
Not likely to happen the way McCauley has been practicing. It seems like he's gotten at least a hand on a pass in every practice and had a number of interceptions early in camp.
"He's going to be a player. You could see that during minicamp," fellow cornerback Antoine Winfield said on the first day of training camp. "He has great hands, great technique, a lot of confidence. But the thing is for a young corner, once you get beat how you react. I'm looking to see how he does when that happens."
So far, McCauley hasn't had a lot of opportunities to show how he handles getting beat, but he acknowledges that things are much different in games than they are in practices.
"Everybody can play when there is no contact – everybody is good. When it's time to man up and hit somebody, that's when you really see … I thought I showed up pretty well in the game. This is a preseason game – what do I know? It's all based on what our coaches think," he said.
Judging from his quick takeover of playing cornerback in the nickel defense, it would appear that the coaches are impressed with McCauley's quick transition from Fresno State to the NFL, but he isn't about to extrapolate his success on the practice field and wonder what it will mean in terms of future playing time. He's already shying away from questions inquiring about how long it might be before he starts pushing for a starting job.
"I don't think you can go out there with that on your mind," he said. "If you go out there with that, that's the quickest way for it not to happen. You have to just play and not worry about what comes after that. You just take it play by play because that's just added pressure. I just want to help the team and not necessarily be the starter or anything like that."
It was obvious Childress had a lot of respect for Glenn's performance on the football field and life. The coach even talked about possibly bringing Glenn back in a non-playing role sometime down the line, and he didn't close the door on Glenn returning to the team at a later point if his knee would allow.
"If you've got good players, you want to keep good players – even if you are top-heavy at some positions," Childress said.