Countdown to Kickoff (3 Days)

COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF (3 DAYS)
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NEW DIPLOMAS IN HAND, NFL VETS GET READY FOR 2007

From new diplomas to the new season. That is the transition for 20 veteran NFL players this September.

The 20 veterans put their offseason to good use by completing their college degrees, many with help from the NFL CONTINUING EDUCATION PROGRAM.

In 1991, the league established the NFL Player Development Department to assist players and their families in their lives off the field. The Continuing Education Program is part of the assistance plan and a major priority of NFL Vice President of Player Development and Pro Football Hall of Famer MIKE HAYNES.

Following are NFL veterans who earned their college degrees this offseason:

PLAYER
TEAM
COLLEGE
MAJOR

LB Charlie Anderson
Houston
Mississippi
Sociology

LB Chase Blackburn
New York Giants
Akron
Integrated Mathematics

TE Mark Bruener
Houston
Washington
Economics

G Dan Buenning
Tampa Bay
Wisconsin
Agricultural Science

TE Dallas Clark (above)
Indianapolis
Iowa
Elementary Education

P Dustin Colquitt
Kansas City
Tennessee
Political Science

G Frank Davis
Detroit
South Florida
Management Information Systems

S Matt Giordano
Indianapolis
California - Berkeley
American Studies

LB Jason Glenn
Minnesota
Texas A&M
Agricultural Leadership

DE Brandon Green
Seattle
Rice
Kinesiology

RB Boomer Grigsby
Kansas City
Illinois State
Marketing

DT Javon Haye
Tampa Bay
Vanderbilt
Human & Organizational Development

S Terrance Holt
Arizona
North Carolina State
Sociology

WR Adam Jennings
Atlanta
Fresno State
Health Science

C Ryan Kuehl
New York Giants
American University
Masters in Business Administration

S Kevin McCadam
Jacksonville
VPI
History

K Mike Nugent
New York Jets
Ohio State
Logistics Management

DB Justin Sandy
Cleveland
Northern Iowa
Liberal Studies

T Max Starks
Pittsburgh
Florida
Sociology

RB Leonard Weaver
Seattle
Carson-Newman
Business Administration

CORNER CLUES: HOW TO KEEP YOUR MAN COVERED

When a wide receiver does his job well on a given play, it can engender fireworks in addition to 70,000 fans celebrating as one. Conversely, when a cornerback takes care of business, it can simply translate into a pass thrown in another direction.

Fair trade-off? Perhaps not, but such is the life of an NFL corner – run step-for-step with an opponent who’s as fast and oftentimes taller and keep him from making a difference in the game.

Effective man-to-man cover cornerbacks are few and far between, but they all have one thing in common, according to Jacksonville Jaguars defensive backs coach ALVIN REYNOLDS: “fundamentals.”

“Working on your skills – the skills of a back-pedal, and drilling consistently on using your eyes when playing a guy one-on-one – that’s what it takes,” says Reynolds. “A lot of times guys want to use false steps when they break and also they want to look at the quarterback when they should be focusing on the receiver. That is the first key thing we teach. Pace is another thing. You work on your pace and not creating too much cushion between you and the receiver. And don’t let him close on you too quickly.”

Mastering and executing these skills may be easier said than done, but players who can consistently survive in man-to-man coverage are invaluable to their clubs.

How some NFL cornerbacks prepare:

Champ Bailey, Denver (above):
“I watch the receiver and the quarterback on film. I watch when the ball is delivered. I watch when the receiver gets in and out of his breaks. When I was younger, I didn’t look at enough film. Now, I watch more of it and notice a lot more things. I think that comes with learning how to watch film.”

Rashean Mathis, Jacksonville:
“First (in film study), I want to see how fast a receiver is to see if I have to worry about him running away from me. Second, I need to see how well he runs his routes in case I am ‘off’ and not pressing up on him. Third, I have to see how well he gets off the jam. When I’m at the line, if I’m pressed, I’m concentrating on just getting my hands on the receiver. If I’m ‘off,’ then I’m just staying down in my backpedal and pacing myself, because I know if I’m at a good pace then I have a great chance of getting my hands on the ball.”

Terrence McGee, Buffalo:
“Basically, I like to watch how the receiver reacts to the defender. If he’s up in press, how does he react to it? If he’s in off-man, what type of stuff does he do? I look at how he comes out of his break. I watch how other defenders defend that receiver. You really want to read a quarterback’s steps once the ball’s snapped. You read your keys – look at the quarterback. See if it’s a quick pass. If it’s not, then you get back into your pedal and read the receiver and what type of break he’s about to make. But these days you can get double-moved real quick, so you have to read their hips also.”

Ike Taylor, Pittsburgh:
“I watch the way a receiver breaks the huddle. I read his body language. Is he coming out with pep in his step for a pass or is he jogging out because it's a run? His mouthpiece, is it in or out? Maybe he only has a mouthpiece in if it’s a pass. Splits, lineup, there are a whole lot of little things that I maybe shouldn't be saying, but hey, those are some of the details I look at. That's what my coaches tell me – ‘Look at the little things,’ and you'd be surprised what you find.”


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