RENTON, Wash. (AP) Kris Richard makes it sound like some covert activity. That sharing this information will is somehow equate a security leak.
Or, he's simply joking.
''It's kind of one of those things to where, if we tell you we can't let you leave,'' Richard said.
The topic is technique. Or at least providing a definition to a specific technique, the one that has helped make the Seattle Seahawks secondary the standard bearer for suffocating supremacy among NFL defenses.
Ask Richard Sherman or, prior to their departures, Byron Maxwell and Brandon Browner what has made them among the top cornerbacks in the NFL and often the answer is ''perfecting their technique.''
But what exactly are they talking about with their ''technique?''
For the Seahawks, and their cornerbacks specifically, it's a style of play called the ''step-kick.'' It's not something special just to the Seahawks. Many teams employ similar techniques for their cornerbacks when playing press coverage at the line of scrimmage.
The difference for Seattle? Combined with their safeties, the defensive scheme they play and some physical attributes - tall, lengthy cornerbacks - the Seahawks have become masters of the technique. It's not the only reason, but an important component of why Seattle's pass defense was the best in the NFL the past two seasons.
''Everybody that learns the technique, they have to do it at a high rate, and if you don't you're going to get chewed out,'' Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. ''More so it has to do with the discipline and the style of play our defensive backs choose to play with on a day-to-day basis. They take their craft very seriously. Not to say other people don't, but I think there is another level when you come to play for Seattle.''
WHAT IS IT?
''Step-kick'' is simply the name the Seahawks have attached to how their cornerbacks are going to play when aligned in press coverage. It's a style based on patience and reaction, and not getting beaten deep by a wide receiver, rather than the traditional bump-and-run style of coverage where the cornerback tried to force where the receiver was going to go.
''I think the easiest thing to relate it to is basketball. Like playing basketball,'' Richard said. ''You just slide, stand firm and using your arms to lock out and get your hands on the wide receiver. So in the simplest form, I think that would be the easy way to explain to somebody. Step in front of the guy and take charge.''
The goal of playing this way is cutting down on mistakes or blown coverages. The over-aggression of the traditional bump-and-run style can leave cornerbacks in a trailing position when a receiver wins coming off the snap. The style the Seahawks plays reduces risk.
''We really want them to be on top, we really want them to be in lead positions,'' Richard said. ''So what's the easiest, best way in order for them to do that? (It) is to allow the wide receiver to push in the direction that they're going. Rather than you dictate, let him dictate.''
No one has figured out this style of play better than Sherman, the prototype in Seattle. Tall, long, smooth and patient. He has all the attributes that equate to success for a cornerback playing this style.
''I think it's one of the most difficult techniques to learn out there because it goes against most of the things you learn,'' Sherman said. ''Especially when you are first learning it, you feel like you should be moving, you feel like you should be reacting, but you have to pace yourself, you have to train yourself and discipline yourself to not react to certain things.''
Sherman often stays on the field long after practice has wrapped up working with various young cornerbacks. His most attentive student this training camp has been rookie Tye Smith.
''I think I do my best to teach as much as I can. I think everybody in our group does,'' Sherman said. ''It's pretty difficult, it's like riding a bike with training wheels, and then taking the training wheels off immediately and somebody says you should be able to ride just as fast as you have been riding with no training wheels.''
Seattle has a handful of new faces in its secondary this season, including veterans Will Blackmon and Cary Williams, and Smith. For Williams and Blackmon, the learning curve is steep because there are old habits that need to be broken.
''I think it's a lot different from what I'm used to. I've been elsewhere doing my technique for seven years and I come here on my eighth year and basically trying to scrap that out of my head and buy into a new system, which is fun,'' Williams said. ''It's awesome. ... It's about getting more consistent in technique and believing in the system and staying patient.''
Patience. Everyone mentions it as the most important trait for playing this style: patience in the learning curve, patience to perform it effectively on the field.
Far from simple, but it's the prerequisite for being a cornerback in Seattle.
''I like to initiate the contact and sort of impose my will on the receivers as best I know how, and you know it's totally different from what we're doing up here,'' Williams said. ''It just takes time for you to understand and really get a good feel for it.''
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