As Miami Dolphins special teams coordinator Daren Rizzi said earlier this, week, wide receiver Jakeem Grant is doing a much better job in camp this year, which he credits to Grant spending the offseason fielding 75 punts a day as he works to keep his job this season. Grant muffed several punts last year in games, costing the team crucial field position in several games.
And this week, Grant himself said that those dropped punts affected him more than he let on.
“I felt like mentally, I let it get to me,” Grant said. “When I dropped the punts in the game, I let it get to me, and instead of just playing the next play ... I was a rookie, I was trying to do whatever I can to go out there and just impress the coaches. In your career, you're going to have mess-ups, you're going to have dropped balls, you're going to have this and that … mentally I just couldn't get over that hump last year.”
Grant continued, “At the first start of the season, I was catching everything, fielding them just fine. All it took was that one drop to make me unsure of 'Oh, am I going to catch this one or am I going to drop it?' And that's what created the chain reaction of dropping it, because I'm thinking so much of 'Oh, I hope I don't drop this one.'”
It’s not a good thing if your kick returner is having doubts out there about whether he’ll catch or drop the next ball. You would think that would be a bit worrisome, no?
"Oh yes, definitely,” says Grant. “Like I said, I've dropped punts; but I have dropped punts before out here and it's all about the next one. That's what the OTAs are for is about getting better and working to be at your best when the season comes. This year, I'm mentally ready and I'm focused. Like you're going to have a dropped ball, you're going to have this and that; it's about overcoming that obstacle."
As mentioned before and reiterated by Rizzi, Grant is looking a lot better in camp this year, and seems to have shaken the jitters that affected him last year.
But then again, all news is good news during early camps and preseason, so we wouldn’t expect to hear any different from players and coaches alike. It remains to be seen if Grant gets his confidence back, and move on from any miscues.
“This year I'm going into it like I'm catching everything that comes my way, no matter what it is - a punt or a catch on a pass,” Grant says. “It's just the fact of having that confidence of going back there and the confidence and swagger of saying 'I'm going to catch this and I'm going to make a big play.'"
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
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