YOUR TEAM FACES SPRING PRACTICE: DEFENSIVE BACKS

This man is either a wide receiver or a defensive back, but taxonomy draws no dividing line whatsoever between the two.

Positional previews continue apace as we turn to cornerbacks and safeties. Again, team is unimportant here because your parents and teachers lied to you when they told you how special you were. We are each but interchangeable masses of base pairs, and it is that very homogeneity which leads us to yearn for robot legs that shoot missiles.

The secondary is the plumbing system of a team, in that you only appreciate in two limited circumstances. The first is when it completely and utterly fails. The second instance are those wondrous moments when the impossible is achieved. Sure, your RA told you not to flush that mass of hair clippings, binder clips, and chocolate you found under the bed during move-out. But you weren't afraid to succeed, and Housing was none the wiser.

April is new, but your cornerbacks and safeties are not. They have always existed in one of these six forms:

1. The Loving Convert: Signed as a receiver, or quarterback, or possibly the third leg of the 4 X 400 team, he has since been moved to a new position and looks totally at home. "Why," you ask, "did the coaches ever have this guy, at 5' 8" and 178 pounds, playing tight end?" Do not ask questions like this. The answers will only drive you mad, as they involve an Excel sheet riddled with errors and a Twister wheel.

2. The Angry Convert: Moved to the defense after his previous position as "wideout with more dropped balls than an orchiopexy specialist" was eliminated. It's only a matter of time before he leaves the program entirely, as the Angry Convert lives by an unshakeable personal code - Death* Before Dishonor.

*Transfer to Arizona

3. Doc Holliday: When Doc takes a chance and jumps a route and it works, you jump and scream and have nothing but the highest of praise. When Doc takes that same chance and leaves the safety hung out to dry on a long pass, you curse and frown and talk about how this team needs players who stay within the scheme and bend but don't break. This says more about you than Doc Holliday, and what it says is that you don't know what you want.

4. Unbreakable Sam: Unbreakable Sam is not an amazing defender. He can only sort of cover his man. He can only sort of tackle. He is only sort of in position. Deep routes become dependent on acts of God to fail. This may make you wonder why Unbreakable Sam is going to play so many meaningful snaps, as surely the team must have someone more athletic or talented or promising. Health is the answer, and Unbreakable Sam has it in bulk.

5. The Greased Wheel: The personification of you-only-notice-when-it's-broken, GW is astoundingly talented at blanketing offensive players that are faster, stronger, or taller than he is. He does not get many interceptions or big hits because he is so good at this skill. GW makes life demonstrably easier on the rest of the defense. But GW is human, and, even if he wasn't, machines break down all the time. When he finally fails to stop a 17 yard button hook on 3rd and 16, GW will not feel loved. GW doesn't care, though, because he is going to be a very, very, very good professional one day.

6. The Jackrabbit: Where Doc Holliday plays off a receiver to try and bait the quarterback, Jackrabbit is just a little scattered and not nearly as technically disciplined as the Greased Wheel. This is an unintentional but natural product of one factor: Jackrabbit is lighting fucking fast, and he closes distance at a speed reserved for birds of prey. He probably also returns punts and you love him despite yourself.

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