BALTIMORE, Md. - Ever since former Tiger offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod, '07 saw the 2010 NFL schedule, Sunday, December 19 held a special significance for him. On Sunday, he will return to the area where he played his college football when the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints visit the Baltimore Ravens in an important NFL matchup at M&T Bank Stadium at 1:00 p.m.
A starter in all 13 games at left tackle for the Saints this season, he has helped New Orleans post a 10-3 record. The Saints, who bring a six-game winning streak into M&T Bank Stadium, are vying for a berth in the National Football Conference playoffs. New Orleans has a 5-1 record on the road. The Saints are one game behind Atlanta (11-2) in the NFC South standings.
The Ravens, who are also competing for a berth in the American Football Conference playoffs, have a 9-4 record. They are one game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North standings. Baltimore has a 5-1 record at home.
In his fourth season as a pro, the 6-5, 315-pound tackle is a second-year starter. He broke into the Saints' starting lineup in 2009. A starter in 18 of 19 contests, he was part of the greatest season in franchise history as New Orleans defeated Indianapolis, 31-17, to win Super Bowl XLIV.
While Jermon and the Saints enjoyed celebrating their Super Bowl victory, they have found why it is so difficult to repeat.
He says, "It has been a test for us every week. Our preparation has been at an all-time high. We go into every game expecting to see our opponent playing their very best because they want to beat the Super Bowl champions. So, we need to give every team our best shot.
"In the NFL, it's a fight to stay on top every week," he adds. "Nobody can afford to get complacent. We need to keep working if we're going to get better. For me, it's a learning experience every week."
A four-year starter at tackle for the Tigers from 2003 to 2006, Jermon is looking forward to playing the Ravens in Baltimore.
"Ever since I saw the schedule for the first time, this game has stood out to me," he says. "This is really a big deal for me because so many of my college friends and my college teammates will be there. I can definitely relate to this because last year we played the Redskins at FedEx Field."
A native of King George, Va., Jermon added, "Playing the Redskins down there was special for me because they were my hometown team more than the Ravens were."
He added, "Playing the Ravens will be special but we've got to remember this is a business trip."
The Saints, who drafted Jermon in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft, have been relying on a very potent offense this year. He is part of an offense that ranks third in the NFL, averaging 386.0 yards of total offense per game. Led by quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints are third in the NFL with 284.9 passing yards per contest. New Orleans also averages 25.4 points per game, sixth in the NFL.
For the former Tiger offensive lineman, this will be his second visit to the Baltimore area in the last two months. When the Saints had their bye week in mid-November, he returned to the Towson University campus as the Tigers played their final home game of the season against Maine.
"I enjoy coming back to campus as often as I can," says Jermon, who earned all-conference honors three times. "Towson University played a big part of my development as a person and as a football player. Coach (Gordy) Combs and (Offensive Line Coach) John Donatelli provided me with so much guidance. I consider many of the people at Towson as part of my family. Every time I come back, I try to visit with as many people as I can."
In his college career at Towson, Jermon was a four-year starter at left tackle. He started the final 37 games of his career. After he earned third team all-conference honors as a sophomore and junior, he was named first team all-conference in 2006. One of the Tiger co-captains in 2006, he helped Towson post a 7-4 record in a season in which the Tigers were nationally-ranked for most of the year and recorded wins over nationally-ranked Delaware and Richmond.
He was the 125th player drafted in 2007, becoming the first Tiger to be chosen in the fourth round.
Jermon is one of two former Tigers who have contributed to the Saints' success.
Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt also played football at Towson from 1974 to 1977 and was a member of the Tigers' coaching staff before embarking on a long NFL coaching career.
In his fifth season on Coach Sean Payton's staff, the Syracuse, N.Y. native previously coached for the St. Louis Rams (2004-05), Kansas City Chiefs (2000-03), Green Bay Packers (1999), Philadelphia Eagles (1995-98), Los Angeles Rams (1992-94) and the Seattle Seahawks (1982-91).
He was a member of Coach Chuck Knox's staff from 1982 to 1994. He became one of Knox's assistant coaches in Seattle in 1982 and followed him to Los Angeles when he was named as the Rams' coach in 1992.
In 2005, Joe served as the Rams' interim head coach after Mike Martz was hospitalized with an illness. He coached the Rams in their final 11 games and led them to a 4-7 record.
TIGER TALES: Jermon is the fifth former Tiger to play in the NFL ... Former All-Pro punter Sean Landeta (1985-2005) had the most prominent career of the Tigers' NFL alumni ... In his career, Sean punted for the New York Giants, Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles ... He was a member of the Giants' Super Bowl XXI and XXV championship teams.
During his 22-year career, Jermon played 284 regular season games and punted 1,401 times ... His 1,401 punts are the second highest total in NFL history ... He punted for 60,707 yards and had a 43.3 average ... In addition, he played in 18 NFL post-season games and punted another 84 times.
Although they won't be on the field at the same time, this will be the second time that Jermon and quarterback Joe Flacco of the Ravens have played against each other ... On Oct. 28, 2006, Jermon and the Tigers faced Flacco and 25th-ranked Delaware in Newark ... Behind the blocking of Jermon, quarterback Sean Schaefer of Towson was able to pass for 435 yards and five touchdowns in the Tigers' 49-35 victory ... Schaefer, who was not sacked, completed 27 of 37 passes and did not throw an interception as he led Towson on seven long scoring drives ... The Tigers drove 80, 90, 82, 80, 69, 80 and 73 yards on their way to the win ... Flacco also had an outstanding day for the Blue Hens as he completed 32 of 51 passes for 341 yards and four touchdowns.