Rookie cornerback Richard Crawford is more than willing to gamble to make a play on the ball. He knows he must be selective, though, and he has sought advice this summer to determine when it’s a smart move.
“I go to ‘DeAngelo Hall Jump School’”, Crawford said. “D has been coaching me up on that type of stuff. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better with knowing when to and when not to. At crucial points in the game, a breakup [instead of an interception] might be the best thing that happens for the team.”
Crawford is making an extremely strong push to win one of the open roster spots in the cornerback competition. He had an interception against Buffalo in the preseason opener, and he almost had one against Chicago. He would have returned it for a touchdown, but it was inches beyond a comfortable catching radius.
Crawford jumped that route against the Bears based on how the receiver get off the line of scrimmage.
“Usually a receiver, if they’re going to run a fade, they’re going to burst off,” Crawford said. “He didn’t really burst off. I was like, OK, it’s third-and-5 and he’s not really bursting off. They’re trying to set me up for something. I kind of slipped under him and cut underneath.”
As for the near catch?
“I feel like I have good enough hands to make one-handed catches, so I feel like I should have gotten that,” Crawford said.
Reading receivers is one lesson Crawford has learned from Hall. A receiver’s stride and hips are among the keys he looks for.
Even if his near pick-6 against Chicago didn’t end up being the perfect play, Crawford has impressed this summer. He gave up some plays in training camp as he continued to get used to reading keys and positioning himself properly at the NFL level, but that’s to be expected from any rookie, let alone a seventh-rounder.
“He has definitely showed me a lot more than I thought he was going to do hen he first came in here,” veteran cornerback Josh Wilson said. “He definitely has an eye for the football. He makes a lot of plays. He learns very quickly.
“[The reserves] were down there practicing with the [starting offense] one day. I think it was a flat route, and I don’t know who threw it – it was either Rex or Griffin – they threw this flat route and he picked it off, and I was thinking to myself: ‘I don’t know if I would have made that play.’ This guy has a lot of talent, a lot of instinct.
Wilson marveled that Crawford was not picked until the seventh round. He also lamented the loss of undrafted cornerback Chase Minnifield to an ACL injury.
“Those guys, I’ve seen worse third rounders,” Wilson said. “They’re going to play a while in this league as long as they keep developing at the rate that they’re on.”