How to Press a Wide Receiver at the Line of Scrimmage

Develop your defensive skills by following these gridiron guidelines to disrupt your opposition’s routes and keep quarterbacks in the pocket longer.

As a defensive back, you are tasked with guarding the wide receiver, one of the most athletic positions on the field. You don’t have to completely stop their progress, but rather be that nuisance who throws off their route just enough to disrupt the play. When you play up on your opponent and cut off their routes so that their paths are flawed, you’re pressing the wide receiver. This not only irritates your receiver, it also forces the quarterback to scan the field longer, giving your teammates a better chance of getting into the backfield for a sack.

To press a receiver, line up within a yard of them on the line of scrimmage. Make sure you are lined up in an athletic stance with even footing, so that you can be better prepared for the quick reactions you’ll need once the ball has been snapped.

Once the play begins, so does the work.

“The primary job of a defensive back is to cut off any inside route or any inside release,” 25-year coaching veteran and Heads Up Football trainer Chris Merritt says.

To accomplish this defensive tactic, make a quick jab step with your inside foot followed by a clearing maneuver with your inside hand. This is meant to help disrupt the receiver’s inside route and combat any inside movements. Once you’ve defended their initial release, give some ground to the receiver and shadow their route for optimal coverage.

Naturally, not all wide receivers are going to release to the inside, so defending an outside release is important as well. To defend against a receiver’s inside stem move and outside release, repeat your inside jab step and hand clearance, but when you mirror your opponent’s outside release, play aggressive and narrow down their space between open field and out-of-bounds.

Pressing your opponent as a defensive back requires quick reactions and a knowledge of how to wreak havoc on your receiver’s intended plan. Follow these Pro Tips and make an impact on the gridiron this football season.