Coach Mike Zimmer said earlier this week that he wouldn’t need to use veteran cornerback Terence Newman at safety tonight. He lied.
Newman started at free safety in place of the injured Harrison Smith and first-round pick Trae Waynes made his first career start at cornerback.
“We thought Waynes was the next best player,” Zimmer said. “And that’s how we could get him on the field, by moving Newman to safety.”
Newman found out earlier in the day that he would be moving to safety, a position he has rarely played in the NFL, not since his Dallas days.
“We talked about it [earlier in the week] but we didn’t know exactly what was going to happen,” he said. “Sendejo practiced a little bit, so we weren’t pretty sure [if Sendejo would be able to play]. But Coach is not going to put somebody out there that might reinjure himself or do further harm. So they made the decision and we rolled with it.”
Newman made one tackle at the position and batted down one pass.
“I felt comfortable. I’ve been playing football pretty much my whole life,” the 37-year-old cornerback said. “It doesn’t matter where I play at. It was different for sure, but I just tried to compete as best as I could.”
So back to Zimmer misleading the media earlier in the week. He was asked on Monday if he would feel comfortable playing Newman at safety against the Cardinals due to all the injuries there, and he replied, “He won’t have to.”
Zimmer apologized to us after the game for lying about it, saying, “I didn’t want to tell the Cardinals that he was going to play safety tonight.”
Look, it’s our job to ask the head coach about strategy and personnel, and he is free to stiff-arm us when we do. Zimmer could have said “no comment” or that he didn’t want to disclose that information. Instead, he broke the trust of the media, the intermediary between the team and its fans.
That’s unfortunate, because Zimmer had been a straight-shooter with the media and by proxy the fans since getting hired nearly two years ago.
And that was refreshing in a league full of CEO-type coaches.