Thirteen months after being released by the Cleveland Browns, and 11 months after being waived out of the Canadian Football League, Brady stood on the threshold of his first start in the NFL. He would be the Ravens' right cornerback, having unseated third-year veteran Issac Booth. This would be his opportunity.
"I got that shot," he said after the Ravens' 17-10 victory. "Now, I've got to go with it, take it to another level."
Brady finished with eight tackles, one pass defensed and one interference penalty. He wasn't perfect, but he wasn't an easy mark, either. The good easily outweighed the bad.
"I made a few mistakes -- just assignments, keys, reading certain things, things that should be easily corrected. I thought I played a pretty solid game," he said.
Then a smile creased his face. "It's really not up to me if I played a good game," he said. "That's up to my higher authority, my coaches. Hopefully, they'll give me a good report."
Defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis had no intentions of failing Brady, who signed with the Browns as a free agent last Dec. 16, before the franchise moved to Baltimore.
"I thought he did a good job. He's a strong guy who can run," Lewis said. "The more you play, the more opportunities you get and the more comfortable you become and the more plays you're going to make."
Brady had six tackles in the first quarter as New Orleans kept running sweeps behind All-Pro left tackle William Roaf. The first pass thrown his way came on the second play of the Saints' opening series, when quarterback Jim Everett hit Torrance Small on a quick sideline route for 7 yards.
Late in the quarter, on third-and-goal from the 5, Everett pumped once and fired to Small over the middle. Brady stripped him of the ball before the receiver landed in the end zone, and New Orleans settled for a 23-yard field goal by Doug Brien.
Getting through the first 15 minutes relatively unscathed "definitely helped," Brady said. "I was able to feel comfortable out there and just have fun. Be loose and whatever happens, happens. If I make a mistake, just line up again. Come back and keep rolling with it. I got a lot of good support from the rest of the team."
Soon after Brady said these words in front of his locker, left cornerback Antonio Langham came by, shook his hand and congratulated him on a good debut.
"Donny's a very hard worker," Langham said. "I thought he did a tremendous job. He's aggressive, he competes. At corner, that's what you have to have. He was terrific today. I commend him."
Brady wasn't sure if the Saints would target him, and he didn't care. "If they want to pass it my way, they're gonna pass it my way," he said. "If they want to take that chance, they'll take that chance."
Brady mostly lined up opposite Small or speedster Michael Haynes, whose fourth-quarter touchdown catch came with Langham covering him.
"They were good receivers," Brady said, "but I get a lot of work during the week going against [Michael] Jackson and D. A. [Derrick Alexander] and all the other receivers on our team. I feel we've got the best receivers out there, so if I keep going against them, I should be able to do well against anybody."
Pub Date: 9/30/96