When I came up to pro ball, the working-over I got from the linebackers was a surprise. In college they paid no attention to me. This fake right, followed by a complete spin to the left, is one of Billy Wilson's favorite ways to avoid linebackers. The spin helps because the linebacker can't grab you as easily when you spin.
On the left is a rear view of a standard defense setup by the white jerseys. I am in a dark jersey (82), on the line of scrimmage. In this one, the linebacker (84) is playing head up on me, with a defensive wing (80) playing me deep. Within three and a half or four seconds I'll have to evade the backer, run my pattern, evade the wingback and reach the spot where Unitas will expect to throw. The diagram shows other linebacker positions.
This may be the most important lesson of all. Put the ball in the bank the second you get it. I practice doing this—tucking it away to avoid a fumble—every time I catch a ball in practice, just kidding around, or just picking up a ball.
Here's the reward for all the work—catching the ball and running with it. I guess running with the ball is the biggest thrill in the game. I try to remember to explode as soon as I've caught the ball and put it in the bank. That extra burst of speed gets you the first down or the touchdown.
Eluding a defensive back in the secondary
Here's the first-down special, a quick hook. You run right at the defensive back (80) until he gives ground, then spin, crouch, catch and spin on away.
A sideline pass. You fake to the center of the field, then break to the sideline. You can stop the clock by stepping out of bounds after the catch.
Stop and go, good to burn an eager beaver with. You come up hard on the defender, stop as if to turn, then run past him when he steps toward you.
This one links with the sideline pass above. Same maneuver, except that you fake the sideliner, then break out to your left toward the center of the field.
The end's biggest job: catching the football