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Finnegan: Wayne best at releasing from line

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Following up on the previous post about the Titans receivers working at getting off the line of scrimmage...

The Titans All-Pro Cortland Finnegan said he's noticed the work and improvement of the team's receivers at taking on press coverage. I asked him for a cornerback's perspective on winning the battle at the line of scrimmage.

"It's everything," he said. "That helps your chances of not getting a ball thrown on you. You don't even have to put your hands on them. If you can get them moving and get them running a different way, you've won that battle. It's absolutely a game within a game. If you can slow them down or get them to detour their route, you've won that because the quarterback may look away, so that's always a positive."

How much of a delay is he shooting to cause and what's a good batting average for doing it?

"If you can hold him up for two beats -- it depends on the quarterback's drop and the down and distance -- but two beats wins you that battle," he siad. "I don't win it enough, I would say six out of 10. It should be eight out of 10, nine out of 10."

Finnegan doesn't pause for two beats when asked who the best receiver at getting off the jam and being unpredictable at the line is:

"Reggie Wayne, by far," he said. "His first 10 yards are the same 10 yards no matter what he's running. It's not so much power, it's finesse. I'm 50 percent with him, and that's a good day."

Film study reveals tendencies. Finnegan can anticipate how a receiver will look to release based on his split. The down and distance tells him that certain routes won't be called. And he gets a feel for whether a guy wants to get to the inside or outside, then looks to prevent him from getting there.

"A lot of guys tend to want to come inside to run their outside routes and tend to go outside to run their inside routes," he said. "Sometimes they may pump their arms, or they might not be running as fast as they can. It's about little tips like that."

Houston's Andre Johnson is a well-rounded receiver -- one of the best in the league -- who's an imposing challenge for any defensive back trying to bump him at the line.

In the comments from this post Wednesday, several of you seemed to be offering up the division's top receivers rather than its top receivers against the jam.

fujicrow offered the best reply:

Andre Johnson is the best by far i'd say. After Johnson, Reggie Wayne is the best reciever in the division but I don't know that he's "excellent" at breaking jams, maybe against lesser defenders sure but there are CBs that could cause him trouble at the line. Of course, with Wayne it's more about what he does past the line than what he does on it. Johnson is the only reciever in the division, and one of only a select few in the entire NFL, that can probably manhandle any defender in pretty much any way he chose to, even Wayne has his limitations. Beyond those two there aren't any real great recievers in this division unless you're counting Holt of the Jags now and i'm not positive he'd still qualify as great at this point in his career. There are probably some that are excellent at getting through jams, but if they don't do anything after that it's not really worth much.