Great blocking receivers are hard to come by today, but are extremely desirable since pushing a defender out of the way can mean the difference between a five and 50-yard gain by a running back.
"For some reason, NFL receivers don't block a lot," New York Giants' wide receiver Amani Toomer says. "It's just such an advantage to a team when you've got guys ducking away from you. You've got safeties paying more attention to the receivers than the running backs so the backs can come down full speed."
And there is no better back than LaDainian Tomlinson. Blocking for him means giving it your all on every play and racing down the sidelines to make that last block, ensuring Tomlinson reaches his goal of the end zone.
With Tomlinson, the Chargers have a back that can explode through the line and put it in the end zone from anywhere on the field, as witnessed by his one carry in the preseason, a 55-yard touchdown run.
It is important that the receivers do their job and cut off the cornerbacks and safeties from making the play. "You just have to have that mindset that you're going to get downfield and make a play," says Osgood, recognized by NFL head coaches as one of the best blockers in the league from the wide receiver position. "You have to be willing to hustle."
For Osgood, it goes into the way he practices. During training camp there was a play where he raced from one side of the field to the other just to make a block that could have sprung the running back.
Practice as you play.
Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Jerry Gray points to good blocking by receivers as critical to a great running game. "Anytime you find a good running back that gains 15-, 16-, 1,700 yards, the receivers have to block effectively down there," Gray says.
"No one else is even close," says Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin.
Ten of the best blocking wide receivers in the NFL, as chosen by league coaches:
|Kassim Osgood||San Diego|
|David Givens||New England|
|Joe Horn||New Orleans|
|Amani Toomer||New York Giants|
|Javon Walker||Green Bay|