NASHVILLE, Tenn. —When cornerback Cody Riggs signed with the Titans as an undrafted free agent in May, even he didn't realize the connection between his father and his new coach.
Riggs, who played at Notre Dame, is the son of former NFL running back Gerald Riggs, a three-time Pro Bowler with the Falcons who won a Super Bowl ring with the Redskins. One of Gerald's teammates with the Falcons: Ken Whisenhunt, an NFL tight end who's now head coach of the Titans.
Gerald Riggs and Whisenhunt played four seasons (1985-88) together in Atlanta, where young Cody Riggs will make his NFL debut on Friday night when the Titans face the Falcons at the Georgia Dome in the preseason opener.
Gerald Riggs attended Saturday's practice at Nissan Stadium, and caught up with Whisenhunt afterward. He'll be on the sideline in Atlanta on Friday watching his son.
"Hopefully I'll get a chance to give Cody a hug and tell him, 'Go get 'em,' Gerald Riggs said on Wednesday. "It is a blessing it has worked out so far, and I am glad to see him getting an opportunity. I am looking forward to seeing how he does at the NFL level. I tell him, 'It is always about week to week and how you respond.' He just needs to keep working. But I am very proud of him. It's special to see."
Cody Riggs, who played in 52 games with 37 starts at Notre Dame, has performed well for the Titans in training camp. With cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Blidi Wreh-Wilson sidelined because of injuries, he's getting an extended look as well. In Tuesday's practice, in fact, he worked with the first group opposite veteran Perrish Cox when Coty Sensabaugh moved into the slot in nickel packages.
Like his father, who ran for 8,188 yards and 69 touchdowns in 10 seasons in the NFL, Riggs played running back when he was a youngster. But he switched to cornerback while in high school at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale because of other players at the position, and hasn't looked back since. The other backs on his high school team back then weren't too shabby: Giovani Bernard, now with the Bengals, and James White, who's with the Patriots.
"It was then when I realized I wouldn't be a running back any more,'' Cody Riggs said with a smile.
Still, Cody Riggs has gotten some advice about being a pro from his dad, who is in the Falcons Ring of Honor, along the way. He's picked up plenty other good tips from veterans in camp, he said.
"(My dad) can give me advice on how to handle camp, finances and things like that,'' Cody Riggs said. "He has been helpful throughout the process. Right now, I am trying to make a name for myself on (defense) and on special teams as well. I am willing to do whatever it takes to make the team."
Whisenhunt said he's been impressed with Riggs, who attracted plenty of attention from other NFL teams after going undrafted.
In practices, the 5-foot-9, 187-pounder has stood out with his aggressive style of play. He's played a number of positions in practice, and will get more opportunities in games.
"He's done a good job. He's shown up,'' Whisenhunt said of Riggs. "That's the one thing about Cody I'll say. "The game will be when he goes against an NFL receiver, other than what we see out here. That'll be a good indication. But if you talk about young guys trying to make a football team, guys that show up in camp consistently, ones that get your attention, it really gives him a good shot."