Dec 29, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Javier Arenas against the San Francisco 49ers at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
I’m a lifelong Atlanta Falcons fan. I’m also a graduate of the University of Alabama. So if there is one long-shot candidate on the roster I’d like to see make a difference this year, it’s Javier Arenas.
Arenas, a cornerback who has kicked around the NFL with the Chiefs and Cardinals since 2010, will be low on the depth chart to start in the Falcons’ secondary, and even lower when it comes to his return specialty since he’ll be backing up legendary returner Devin Hester this year.
Arenas was a fan-favorite for the Tide when he played, capping off his All America collegiate career with a BCS title win over Texas and seven career punts returned for touchdowns. Among his highlight reel moments at the Capstone was one of my personal favorites, when he made Tim Tebow cry in the 2009 SEC Championship game. It would be unnecessary and tasteless to point out that the eligible Florida Gator receiver on this play is currently awaiting trial for three murders.
He’s had a less than headlining NFL career. But now he lands in Atlanta as the journeyman, and he appears to be making the most of his time behind Devin Hester, learning the tools of the trade from the greatest return man of all time. Arenas recently spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on his time behind Hester:
"“I think the word ‘honored’ describes it best as far as playing behind him. Someone like myself who was very good at it in college … I felt like I need someone to show me the ropes and from that aspect, from a return aspect, who better than him? I think as we get into training camp and things like that and actually get into doing punt-return drills, he’ll kind of become a coach to me. He might not even know it.”"
Arenas was a gifted college player who was always fun to watch, and the Falcons secondary is in dire need of some spark. Hopefully, Arenas can blossom that talent he had in college to shine on the biggest football stage there is. At some point, Devin Hester will call it quits. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the heir apparent already on the team?