Q: It looked like Jernigan had a good punt return in practice yesterday. Has he impressed you in that area?
A: He has. I’m happy with that group. We need to see the three rookies that we have against live bullets back there, so that’ll be exciting for us to see. Jernigan’s catching the ball better, he’s getting started better. Hosley has done some good things as well and he’s got some experience coming from Virginia Tech. Reuben Randle’s a guy that we’ve worked back there. I know that he’s done it in practice in college but he has been behind two very good punt returners; one that’s in the league and one that will be in the league soon.
Q: On Jernigan’s ability to move up the field:
A: As soon as they can find the first vertical seam, we want them to take it. We want as many positive yards as we can. He can stretch and cut and that’s a great ability to have.
Q: Jernigan has issues with ball security at this time last year. That’s a mental thing, is that gone?
A: He did, but I’d hope so. It’s a physical thing as well, as far as tracking the ball better and being in a better position. I think he’s doing those things. Until you see it with a live punter and live guys coming down you really don’t know.
Q: Do you have someone in mind to fill the void left by Devin Thomas?
A: Again, each year we look at our roster and have to figure out who the 53 and the 46 is going to be for game day. We try to determine what guys can fill those roles and it’s ever changing for special teams. We never get too hooked up with a guy because once you start feeling comfortable with a guy then he’s starting or he’s a free agent. We’re used to the change and having to get guys ready for that role.
Q: With Tyler Sash’s suspension, you lose your fullback on the punt situation. Did Stevie Brown do some of that elsewhere?
A: No, he’s never done it so we’re training him to do it. We always try to train a lot of different guys doing it so they understand the concept of the protection. We’ll do a lot of it in meetings when we throw up a picture and ask them to call out the protection, whether they’re playing tackle or guard or wing. Chase has done it for us in games. We’re working Isaiah Stanback and Dan DePalma in that role as well.
Q: What does Randle bring to the punt return game?
A: He has very good hands. Sometimes he’s almost too confident with his hands and he catches the ball as if he’s catching a pass instead of getting up and underneath it. He covers more ground that it appears because he’s a long smooth strider, but he does have the ability to stick his foot in the ground from what it looks like in practice.
Q: Is it nice to enter camp without a big cloud around the punting situation and having someone you know you can trust in that spot right now?
A: Yeah, we like to have our guys back and this is the first year that we’ve had the same punter, kicker, and long snapper. That really helps those three guys perform at a high level.
Q: Are you looking at basically the same guys for kickoff return?
A: We do, but we’ll also add Da’Rel Scott and Andre Brown into that mix as well. All those guys have been repping.