• Erica Blackburn

Rivera Compares Benjamin St-Juste to Peanut Tillman

Sometimes, coaches like to wait a while before giving their young talent high praise. It’s still relatively early in training camp, and anything can happen between now and Week 1. Rookie cornerback Benjamin St-Juste is putting in the work early in Washington Football Team’s training camp.

The former Minnesota Golden Gopher was selected in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft, coming off the board with the 74th overall pick. Now, he’s catching the eye of the head coach. So much so, head coach Ron Rivera has compared him to NFL legend Charles “Peanut” Tillman. That’s very high praise for a rookie who just got to the NFL this past spring.

“Watching him, he's built like Charles, he's got that mentality,” said Rivera. “You always watch him going after the football. So, when I try to compare him to somebody, I'm doing that because I see things that tell me, 'Hey, this is what this kid's skillset is all about.'"

Tillman, who played for the Bears (2003-2014) and Panthers (2015), had Rivera as defensive coordinator in Chicago and head coach in Carolina. In his 13-year career, he created 82 total turnovers and scored nine non-offensive touchdowns. Tillman was named All-Pro once, selected to two Pro Bowls, and was ranked No. 31 on a list of the 100 greatest Chicago Bears of all-time.

St-Juste was happy about the praise, but acknowledged he’s not on Tillman’s level yet.

“I think it's a great comparison, to be honest,” said St-Juste. “I'm not at Charles Tillman’s level yet, but coach Rivera mentioning him and my name in that same sentence that’s pretty good. I just strive to get better every day, day-by-day so I can reach Charles Tillman’s status at one point.”

Linebacker Jon Bostic, who played with Tillman in Chicago, also sees some similar traits between the NFL great and rookie.

“I will say he's got the size of him,” said Bostic. “We'll see if he learns that punch (Peanut Punch) which I tried to learn.. … but that is a comparison that if he can grow into something like that, that's not a bad guy to be compared to.

"You know, he's a guy not really talked about a lot, but he's definitely one of the best to do it out

there. And taught me a lot, challenged me a lot when I was a rookie and in my second year with them. I learned a lot just from him, the way he took care of his body, the way he prepared for games, the way he made plays on the ball. The way he thought throughout the game about taking the ball away and how important it was and wanting to turnover, battle each game and how you give your team a better chance to win by winning that turnover battle. So I believe if that's something that the coach sees, I know he was with him, so he knows him. It's not a bad guy to be compared to out.”

If Benjamin St-Juste has half the career that Tillman had, WFT fans should be very pleased.

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