Through six NFL seasons with the New Orleans Saints and now the
St. Louis Rams, tackle Kyle Turley has hounded opponents with his
hyperaggressive style. While his maniacal approach hasn't won him
many friends--though he was a 2000 All-Pro selection, he has yet
to be voted to the Pro Bowl--his relentlessness has earned him
something he says is far more important: the upper hand in a
psychological battle with the man across the line from him.
"At their worst, defensive linemen are really nothing more than
geraniums, a great term coined by our line coach, Jim Hanifan.
Think about it. Getting to the ball is the only thing they have
to do, which is good, because most of them don't have any brains.
They don't have to think a whole lot, and their lives are pretty
simple--just like geraniums.
"On the offensive line you have to believe you're superior in
every way to the guy across from you. If it means beating him
down play after play, fine. But the rare guy who's actually
astute--a Warren Sapp or a Trace Armstrong--might know your
tendencies, so you just have to outthink him. Say, for instance,
you see that the guy you're going against is anticipating a
double team on third-and-long, you make a dummy call for it, let
him adjust his technique for a double team that never comes, and
then you light him up. Or if you see that a guy is catching on to
your adjustment calls, you just change the lingo. If I'm looking
to shed a D-lineman to block a linebacker, I'd normally call out,
Slip. But if he's on to the call, I simply change it to something
else that's slippery, like Snot or Grease.
"Honestly, staying ahead of most D-linemen just isn't that hard.
The tough part is keeping that focus for an entire game. The
worst thing that can happen to me is to be mauling a guy to death
all day and then give up something cheap in the end. God forbid
he gets a sack. Then this guy I've been killing for 60 minutes
gets to dance around for the cameras, and the idiots in the booth
get to tell you what a great player he is, and all about his high
school career and family and on and on.
"On our best days, we offensive linemen finish what we start.
Given our opponents, it should never be that difficult."
COLOR PHOTO: SIMON BRUTY MIND GAME For Turley (68), the battle in the trenches ispsychological as well as physical.