Getting a chance to line up against the Denver Broncos and pursue quarterback Peyton Manning is something Cleveland Browns defensive end
Sheard and Cleveland’s entire defensive line will get that chance when the Browns travel to Sports Authority Field at Mile High for Sunday’s game against the AFC West Division champion Broncos.
“I’m just going to go out and play,” Sheard said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun. I wish we would’ve played him my first year, but he was out when we played the Colts, so I’ve been wanting this for a while. I’m finally going to get it.”
In preparing to take on the Broncos, the Browns have focused on pressuring Manning, who has been sacked only 21 times for 137 lost yards this season. Denver’s 21 sacks allowed are tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the third-fewest in the NFL, behind only the New York Giants (16) and Houston Texans (20).
“He’s smart; he knows where to find guys,” Sheard said of Manning. “He knows where everybody is and he’s just good.
“He gets rid of the ball so fast and he’s always on point. He studies the game. He knows the game pretty well. He knows where all of his players are, every receiver, every running back. He’s got a great sense, when he’s in the pocket, of where the line’s at. He’s going to be tough to face, but I think we can do it.”
In addition to being smart and accurate with the football, Manning uses an element of surprise every time he steps to the line of scrimmage. Once Manning breaks the huddle, he surveys the defense and commonly makes checks and audibles. After identifying where the pressure could come from based on a defense’s alignment, Manning communicates with the backs and receivers about changing to a new play.
Sheard said he just has to “continue to do my job” and work to break free from the blocks of Denver’s offensive linemen.
“There’s no guessing to getting off the ball,” Sheard said. “You watch the ball and you just try and get a good snap. It’s probably not going to be in his voice. You’ve probably got to be more disciplined and get off the ball a little later because he’s got so many changes and so many things he does with his voice and moving his body. You’ve just got to watch the ball and get the best get-off you can.
“You want to tune in to what you’ve got to do, just watch that tackle, watch the ball and my main focus is getting past the tackle. When I get to him, I’m there.”