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Richard Sherman: Playing cornerback is harder than playing receiver

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 02:  Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks runs off the field after warm-ups before the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on October 2, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks and Richard Sherman, one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, face the Falcons and Julio Jones, one of the best receivers in the NFL, on Sunday. In his weekly media availability, Sherman was asked whether receiver or cornerback is harder to play.

“Corner because you never leave the field,” Sherman told reporters. “You don’t get to leave the field, you don’t get to sub, you don’t get to rotate. If there’s two receivers out there on the field, you’re out there. It’s not like you get to swap, this receiver went out so somebody else comes in, it doesn’t matter. If they’re tired, they get to sub out and bring someone else in.

“That was one of the challenges when we played Denver in the Super Bowl. They’re rotating the receivers in and out every three plays and we’re out there. They get to get fresh, they get to take a breather and take a break. Sometimes the receivers never even go back to the huddle, they’ll just run out to the sideline and you turn around, you’re 60 yards down the field and a new receiver is standing there. That’s something that some people don’t think about playing corner.”

Sherman also pointed to the rules as favoring the receivers.

“A receiver can push you down the field, a receiver can grab you, pull you, and there’s no penalty for that,” Sherman said. “If you touch him, if you try to defend yourself, if you push him past five yards, illegal touching, that’s an automatic first down. Even if its third and 50, that’s an automatic first down. If you’re standing there in your own spot and they run into you, and they call that illegal contact, that’s an automatic first down. Whether it’s third or fourth and 50, fourth and 15, if you’re set up for an easy interception and they tackle you to the ground, that would be a ten yard penalty, no loss of downs, no anything. They’ll probably get that 10 yards back from another penalty or something. Holding, automatic first down. Every penalty that can be called on defense is just about an automatic first down. Very difficult to play in that position.”

He’s right, but the Seahawks won their Super Bowl in part by constantly pushing and pulling and hitting receivers beyond five yards, forcing the officials to bog down a game by calling a penalty on every single play.

The biggest difference between the two positions, which Sherman didn’t mention, is that the receiver knows where he’s going and the cornerback has to react to that. That alone makes it important for cornerbacks to be better athletes.

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31 Responses to “Richard Sherman: Playing cornerback is harder than playing receiver”
  1. bryn987 says: Oct 12, 2016 8:53 PM

    Biggest point not mentioned is a receiver has to rely on his quarterback to put the ball where it needs to be. 2 chances of a screwup; the receiver screwing up and the quarterback screwing up. The cornerback only has to worry about himself

  2. irkjames says: Oct 12, 2016 8:53 PM

    Corners also have to run backwards for 10 yards against receivers who run 4.2-4.5 speeds.

    Sounds like a question someone whose never played football would ask a pro, Florio.

  3. tonebones says: Oct 12, 2016 8:59 PM

    Cornerback is ten times harder than wide receiver. The WR knows where he’s going, knows where the QB is going to throw the ball. The CB has to react, without touching the WR. Anyone can play WR as long as you have a decent QB. Only the very best of the best elite athletes can get on the field as a CB.

  4. skeeeiins says: Oct 12, 2016 9:01 PM

    Aside from QB, there is no harder position in football to play than cornerback.

  5. therealraider says: Oct 12, 2016 9:04 PM

    Ironically it’s usually the players who suck at receiver who have to be DBs. How many times have we seen a corner drop a ball that hits him in the hands only for the announcer to say “and that is why he plays defense and not offense”

  6. darcrequiem says: Oct 12, 2016 9:05 PM

    Given the way all the rules are tilted in the QB and WR favor, its’ not even close. CB is much harder.

  7. bigoldred says: Oct 12, 2016 9:17 PM

    I don’t care for Sherman, but he’s right.

  8. pastabelly says: Oct 12, 2016 9:21 PM

    Blaming overly aggressive play on the Seahawks winning Super Bowl 48 isn’t really fair. That game was a total blowout. Seattle also lost a Super Bowl on a brilliant play by a cornerback. In other words, Sherman is right.

  9. fiddlinred says: Oct 12, 2016 9:22 PM

    He’s right.

  10. paastahtroy says: Oct 12, 2016 9:29 PM

    “He’s right, but the Seahawks won their Super Bowl in part by constantly pushing and pulling and hitting receivers beyond five yards, forcing the officials to bog down a game by calling a penalty on every single play.”


    Seahawks won the Super Bowl because they dominated Denver in all facets of the game… best D of all-time shut down the best O of all-time… and our offense also dominated them… which in turn effected how many teams built their teams after that, including Denver themselves.

  11. backintheday99 says: Oct 12, 2016 9:31 PM

    All things being equal, yes.

    But, a 4.5 (40) guy can’t play WR at 4.5 without tons of reps because you have think, count steps in the beginning, get timing and routes down with each new QB and have to be concerned with getting drilled. A 4.5 guy usually takes time to play to his speed, if ever.

    A 4.5 CB, like Sherman can go out and just react.

    I’ve played both in the same game for 6 years of tackle and 17 more years of touch/tackle and everyone thought I was the fastest CB in the world and it took years to shake the possession receiver tag.

    Back to all things being equal. Antonio Brown vs. Richard Sherman: Yes, it’s harder to play CB…

  12. greeenpowerr says: Oct 12, 2016 9:38 PM

    bryn987 says:
    Oct 12, 2016 8:53 PM
    Biggest point not mentioned is a receiver has to rely on his quarterback to put the ball where it needs to be. 2 chances of a screwup; the receiver screwing up and the quarterback screwing up. The cornerback only has to worry about himself

    This guy has clearly never played on defense for a football team. Defense is all about continuity, as a whole and especially as units. To suggest a corner only has to worry about him self is laughable to say the least. Because safties certainly have no impact on corners right? Also if you’re playing zone coverage then everyone in the secondary and even linebackers who are covering you need to worry about. Hell even you need to rely on your d-line because no one can cover forever.

  13. thegreatgabbert says: Oct 12, 2016 9:54 PM

    49ers have a future stud at the position in Rashard Robinson, who is barely 21. He covers receivers like a fitted coat. Better than Jalen Ramsey in coverage.

  14. tbone4444 says: Oct 12, 2016 9:57 PM

    Ya, that’s why they beat the Broncos 43-8 in the SB because they were pushing and pulling and hitting receivers more than 5 yards down field….smh

  15. aballinhighgrass says: Oct 12, 2016 9:58 PM

    He’s correct in everything he said. And it’s one of the reasons football is dying.

  16. ajas95 says: Oct 12, 2016 10:01 PM

    In the Super Bowl, the Broncos were rotating receivers out every three plays to bring on a punter.

  17. thraiderskin says: Oct 12, 2016 10:05 PM

    That’s like the biggest “no duh” comment anyone can make about football. On defense, you’re always reacting, making the very idea a more difficult concept than offense.

    Hell, he could have said x10 and I would’ve still agreed.

  18. billybone says: Oct 12, 2016 10:13 PM

    I agree with Florio and what I initially think of being a CB. The receiver knows exactly where he is going while the DB can only use game tape, instincts, planning, and skill to counter it. I don’t care if it’s Sherm or any other CB, it’s got to be tough playing CB in an offensive favored league.

  19. vicnocal says: Oct 12, 2016 10:15 PM

    Dick Sherman is right once again.

  20. jasons81 says: Oct 12, 2016 10:21 PM

    Considering how the rules now drastically favor the offense I 100% agree with what Sherman is saying.

  21. str82dvd says: Oct 12, 2016 10:38 PM

    CB is a harder position to play, no question. But as the saying goes, if corners could catch, they’d be receivers.

  22. fmckenney says: Oct 12, 2016 10:39 PM

    More often than not, receivers are divas, cornerbacks are defensive tacticians. DBs are members of a defense, receivers are receivers. Eg. OBJ, Dez, terrell etc.

  23. sowhatbrady6 says: Oct 12, 2016 10:42 PM

    ………and WR who can’t catch are called CB

  24. In Teddy We Trust says: Oct 12, 2016 10:52 PM

    Mike Zimmer rotates his cornerbacks. The main problem is there are so few good cornerbacks that most teams can’t afford to do that. If you’re so tired that you’re getting beat at the ends of games, however, it must be a smart thing to do.

  25. danger206 says: Oct 12, 2016 10:55 PM

    You’re wrong in your final assessment, Mike. Richard does know where they’re going. Ask Brandon.

  26. amaf21 says: Oct 12, 2016 10:59 PM

    Good. He should quit so we never have to hear him open his mouth again.

  27. tattooit says: Oct 12, 2016 11:32 PM

    We know.


    Every single person on earth 🌏

  28. fordman84 says: Oct 12, 2016 11:36 PM

    “Hey guys, remember me? I’m still around”

  29. bleedingfacemask says: Oct 13, 2016 12:04 AM

    The one thing he (conveniently) left out in his answer is that he IS the receiver. The quarterbacks just don’t realize it yet…

  30. thegreatgabbert says: Oct 13, 2016 2:58 AM

    I said before the draft, a top cover corner is worth as much as a top quarterback. Best 49ers pick was Rashard Robinson, who is currently the #3 rated rookie overall after Wentz and Prescott, and RR didn’t start until fourth game of season. He could be most valuable pick in the draft. Just turned 21 in August, and missed most of his last two college seasons. He’s a natural.

  31. minson15 says: Oct 13, 2016 9:56 AM

    I’m very impressed by the readers this morning after all the comments. It’s surprising that such a hated player in the league as Sherman says something so true and everyone actually agrees with him. Yes it was a pretty obvious statement (maybe the casual fan or someone’s wife/gf might not know), but normally that doesn’t stop PFT readers to show there ignorance and bias towards the game. This article was different and it was a breath of fresh air.

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