If this doesn't get you excited about McFadden, nothing will..
Cover guys? need not apply
Monday, June 6, 2005
By Bob Labriola
A little more than a year ago, the NFL notified its teams that it had instructed its officials to emphasize enforcement of the rule prohibiting contact with wide receivers more than 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Anticipating the impact of this change, some teams changed the specs on what they wanted in a cornerback, and the trend seemed to shift from the bigger, physical players to guys who are smaller and shiftier.
Dick LeBeau doesn?t want to hear it.
?We don?t want any of those guys who say, ?We?re just cover guys,?? said LeBeau. ?We?re not interested in those guys.?
But isn?t this the era of the cover-corners in the NFL?
?Yeah,? said LeBeau, ?and it?s also the era of the fired defensive coordinator if your ?cover guy? won?t tackle anyone.?
When LeBeau opted to return to the Steelers in January 2004 for his second stint as the team?s defensive coordinator, he said one of the reasons for that decision was because he and Coach Bill Cowher were of the same mind when it came to how defense should be played in the NFL. And at the core of Cowher?s beliefs is to play physical and stop the run. If you don?t play run defense, you don?t play for the Steelers. Big or small, short or tall, this applies to everybody.
Through much of Cowher?s tenure with the Steelers, the team preferred bigger cornerbacks. Rod Woodson, D.J. Johnson, Deon Figures, Chad Scott and even Carnell Lake when he moved there from safety, all were at least 6-feet tall. But the same physical, tackling style was expected from last year?s starters ? 5-foot-9 Willie Williams and 5-foot-10 Deshea Townsend.
?I think both (Deshea and Willie) have proven that they?ll get out there and get on the ground with you, too, and, pound-for-pound, Willie Williams is one of the toughest guys on the team,? said LeBeau. ?We?re not saying that at 5-foot-9, 183 pounds you?re going to go out there and smoke the Bus, but you?re going to get him on the ground. That?s all we?re talking about here. Some guys will tell you, ?No, I?m paid to cover,? and just stay close to the receiver, and that?s not the guy we?re looking for.?
No, Cowher and LeBeau want the best of both worlds. They want the guys who are going to run with receivers all over the field without getting called for those cheap illegal contact fouls, and then come up and smack the guy with the ball and get him on the ground.
And as coaching sessions continue, it appears the Steelers have some candidates from which to choose once training camp opens in late July.
Williams and Townsend are both returning; Ike Taylor and Ricardo Colclough both have another year of experience at the position under their belts; and No. 2 pick Bryant McFadden has shown an aggressive style that looks like it?ll fit perfectly with what the Steelers want from their players on defense.
?I was taught to play with reckless abandon ? no seatbelt,? McFadden told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. ?A lot of people might be smarter than me on the football field, and they might know more than I do right now, and they might be quicker and faster than me, but one thing I want everybody to see from me is that I?ll always be moving, running to the ball and getting in there and getting ready for some contact.?
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