As he learns to play cornerback, Sean Morey wants to make sure he gets noticed for the right things.
!() In many cases, notoriety at the position can be a negative. If opposing teams notice they can pick on a defensive back, games can be long affairs for the defender. This is not happening to Morey, who has yet to allow any big gains in his short career on defense.
Gradually his confidence is increasing. Thrown to the wolves immediately in Week One when Anthony Malbrough was unable to play, Morey was forced into a starting role. That week he posted five tackles and handled his assignments well.
"Initially, I took the approach that I was going to play a little more conservative because I didn't want to put my team in a situation where they were going to have to make big plays to come back," Morey said. "I think they caught a couple hitches and a slant on me, but really in the last couple games I haven't had any completions on me, except for a couple small ones. As I improve and become a little more confident, I will start jumping routes more. Right now I want to be aggressive, but I want to stay within the scheme."
The scheme Barcelona has employed this season has worked to near perfection. Through three weeks, the Dragons have allowed just 45-of-103 (43.7%) passes to be completed against them, and they have allowed just 47 points, both of which are tops in the league. Barcelona has allowed just 13-of-38 (34.2%) on third-down conversions, second only to Amsterdam, which has allowed an incredible 5-of-35 (14.3%).
Morey credits teammates Malbrough and Deauntae Brown with helping him relax and make plays. The chemistry for the entire team has led to a 3-0 start, a far different situation than Morey saw a year ago when the Dragons opened 1-3.
"With any team that I've ever been a part of, winning breeds team chemistry, and losing can rear an ugly head," Morey said. "You get guys from all different teams and all different walks of life, and you only have a month or so before you start playing games. Last year we started losing, and the chemistry wasn't as good as it is now. When you win a few games, people just have more confidence in each other. We are going into each game thinking we should win every game."
Winning is also letting the team become a little more aggressive. The offense has put points on the board, giving the defense some breathing room. Rather than get complacent when leading, Morey and the defense turn it up a notch to put teams away.
"If anything, (success on offense) makes the defense a little bit hungrier," Morey said. "If you have a team down by a couple touchdowns or a couple scores, you want to go for the jugular and get them out of the game."
As much as he has improved on defense, Morey special teams play has been exceptional. He already has blocked two kicks, one a 28-yard field goal attempt by Berlin's Axel Kruse in the season-opener, and the other an extra point attempt by Rhein's Manfred Burgsmuller last Saturday.
"We're getting a good effort from the entire field goal block team, and I think when you do some of the little things right, sometimes that pays off," Morey said. "Fortunately that was enough to give us a little bit of an edge in the win."
The block of Burgsmuller's kick was key because it prevented the Thunder kicker from tying the NFL Europe career record for points at 235.
"I was told the day after, but I had no idea what was going at the time," Morey said. "Usually I like to hear about people's accomplishment's, but I'm glad that one didn't come at my expense."
Morey's responsibilities may increase in the coming weeks at the expense of teammate Eddie Conti. Conti, a backup receiver, suffered a knee injury in Week Three on a kick return and is lost for the season. With roster numbers already low, Barcelona needs to fill Conti's void with what they have.
"That was really unfortunate because Eddie was one of our better receivers out here," Morey said. "Last year there was a similar situation where he got hurt and had to be sent home to Birmingham for rehab. He was playing really well, and seeing that happen is disheartening."
With Conti out, Morey is taken some snaps with the offense in practice. His focus remains with the defense, but in a pinch he could be used as an extra receiver.
"It does open up an opportunity for me to get a little bit of playing time, but more importantly right now all I am doing is backing up," Morey said. "We only have a certain number of healthy defensive backs. I'm working in the rotation in practice as a receiver, and I feel pretty good."
Morey maintains that his receiving background is a benefit. Early on he had a tendency to break too soon because routes looked familiar, but he has learned to be more patient.
"I think the (receiving experience) is really starting to work in my favor," Morey said. "I am understanding everything and I am anticipating it, but I am not jumping routes like I wanted to in the past. I'm not sitting on things and I am using better judgement, which is helping me in terms of recognizing coverages or combination routes in certain situations. Really what it has done is give a better perspective and overall understanding of the game."