Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn discussed the special teams situation, more specifically the punt return team.
One player that looks like he will get a shot at returning punts this season will be Jerrel Jernigan. Quinn discusses how Jernigan has improved and impressed so far. "Jernigan’s catching the ball better, he’s getting started better," said Quinn. "He can stretch and cut and that’s a great ability to have."
As far as ball security is concerned, Quinn remembers Jernigan's struggles from last year, but feels he will be better this year mentally. "He did [struggle], 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," said Quinn.
Quinn also wants to see what the rookies can do returning punts. In particular his wants to see the experience Jayron Hosley has and the speed and hands Rueben Randle has. "Hosley has done some good things as well and he’s got some experience coming from Virginia Tech," said Quinn. "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."
Quinn admits using Randle could be a difficult transition for him, but believes the rookie can succeeed in the role.
"[Randle] 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," said Quinn. "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."
Quinn also discusses the constant changes from year-to-year on special teams.
"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," said Quinn. "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."
The changes appear to be useful in the situation of an unavailable player. Recently fullback Tyler Sash was suspended by the leage for four games and won't be there for special teams purposes. Quinn already has a plan in his mind, but it would involve having to train Stevie Brown for the role.
"[Stevie Brown has] never done it so we’re training him to do it," said Quinn. "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 [Blackburn] has done it for us in games. We’re working Isaiah Stanback and Dan DePalma in that role as well."