When Randy Moss beats a defensive back on the practice field, he comes back and tells his victim all about it. It's not trash talking. Rather it's instruction.
"He tells us the reason why he ran it this way, the reason why he did this, did that," said cornerback Perrish Cox. "Because you might face a receiver like Calvin Johnson or you may face one of the taller, bigger receivers and these are the types of things that he'll do."
Cox said the 49ers spring drills, which for veterans wrapped up last week, were a valuable learning experience, and the newcomer emerged as one of the standouts from the session.
"We like Perrish," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "We've got him playing nickel and corner, which are two different positions. There's no carry over from one to the other, from an assignment and technique standpoint. And he's done well learning both those positions and we're very happy to have him. He's given us added depth and he's going to push for added playing time if he continues the work that he's showing so far."
Cox said that when he arrived in Denver as a rookie in 2010, he was more resistant to playing the nickel role. He said he saw himself as a pure cornerback and didn't appreciate what the other position did. "I didn't quite have the right attitude," he said.
Over the past few months, he's realized the value of playing both. In addition to hanging on Moss' every word, Cox has been shadowing Carlos Rogers as much as possible. Rogers, of course, started at cornerback last year and moved to the nickel spot on passing downs. He did so with much fanfare, finishing tied for the team lead in interceptions and earning his first trip to the pro bowl.
The clichÃ© about cornerbacks is that they operate on their own islands, with little help from teammates. Not so, said Cox, and playing both cornerback and nickel back this spring has crystallized that point.
"You know where the corner's going to be, where the safety's going to be. That's what it's all about - knowing where everyone else is, where your help is," he said. "So, it's a tougher position, but it helps you out. It makes you smarter."
Cox also said his ongoing legal ordeals have made him more focused on his job and more appreciative of being back on the practice field. In March, Cox was found not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman at his Denver apartment in 2010. The details of the case can be found here.
That woman recently filed a civil suit against Cox and former Broncos
receiver teammate Demaryius Thomas, who was at the apartment the night of the alleged assault. There is a lower standard of proof in civil cases than criminal cases.
Cox said he didn't know whether the NFL would impose its own punishment in relation to the cases but said he was not anticipating any discipline. The league has said it will continue to review the case and that it does not rely on court verdicts as far as determining whether discipline is warranted.
"My agent's been keeping a close eye on that, a close word with everybody," Cox said. "... Like I said, I'm not focused on that at all. I'm playing football. And at the end of the day, whatever's going to happen is going to happen, and there's nothing I can do to control it."
-- Matt Barrows