JagNation Training Camp Preview: Specialists

JagNation Training Camp Preview:  Specialists

The Jaguars special teams unit was a thorn in their sides in 2006, as they were near the bottom of the league in all of the coverage categories. The special teams almost single-handedly lost two games for the team by allowing punt return touchdowns. Read about the changes made:

The front office recognized the problem and did something about it in a pretty big way. Gone is special teams coordinator Pete Rodriguez, and in to take his place is former Falcons special teams coordinator, Joe DeCamillis. Last season's punter, Chris Hanson was released this spring, and the Jaguars drafted punter Adam Podlesh in the fourth round. The team hopes to have different results in '07, and by the looks of things in mini-camps, they should.


Josh Scobee
Josh Scobee was drafted by the Jaguars in the fifth round back in 2004, and has been the teams' only kicker ever since. Scobee boasts one of the strongest legs in the NFL, and has hit some big kicks over his short career.

Strengths:
Scobee has one of the strongest legs in the league, and he finished second in the league in touchbacks in '06. Scobee also seems to have a lot of confidence.

Weaknesses:
Although Scobee's leg is strong enough, he has been inconsistent throughout his young career. He didn't hit a field goal longer than 48 yards in '06, and was just 14-19 in field goals over 40 yards.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
If Scobee can find some more accuracy, he has the leg to be one of the very best in the game. Worst case scenario is that Scobee gets injured, and someone replaces him and wins the job.


Adam Podlesh
Adam Podlesh was drafted by the Jaguars in the fourth round this April to be the long-term answer at the punter position. Podlesh was fantastic is college, and many expect him to carry his success on to the next level.

Strengths:
Big leg, can punt directionally, great athlete.

Weaknesses:
No experience punting in the NFL.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Perhaps Podlesh can be the punter that the Jaguars envisioned right away, and he can start a long, productive career in Jacksonville. Worst case scenario is that Podlesh struggles or gets injured.


Joe Zelenka
Joe Zelenka has been the Jaguars long-snapper ever since he was signed as a free agent before the 2001 season. Zelenka is one of the most popular Jaguars around the community, and one of the very best long-snappers in the game.

Strengths:
Perfect snaps, almost always.

Weaknesses:
He doesn't play any other positions, and is on the wrong side of 30.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Joe Z. will make the roster again with another strong training camp. Worst case scenario is that backup long-snapper and tight end Greg Estandia does a good enough job to where Joe Z. may be expendable.


Tony Yelk Tony Yelk was signed by the Jaguars as a free agent this spring, as he played on Atlanta's practice squad in '06. Yelk can do both place-kicking and punting, and could be a very valuable member of someone's roster.

Strengths:
Yelk is versatile, and if a kicker or punter goes down in the middle of a game, Yelk can take over and nothing would be lost. Very accurate kicker, solid kickoff man.

Weaknesses:
Yelk doesn't have a huge leg, and although he's good at both punting and kicking, he's not great at either, at least not yet.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
With a solid camp and good preseason, Yelk will find a job somewhere in the league. Worst case scenario is that he doesn't get any opportunities in preseason.


Greg Estandia
Greg Estandia made the Jaguars practice squad in '06 as an undrafted free agent rookie. Estandia has been impressive in camp at tight end, and will have a legitimate shot at making the roster.

Strengths:
Solid long-snapper, good hands for a tight end. Versatile.

Weaknesses:
Inexperienced, virtual unknown.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Estandia will earn a roster spot if he continues to impress at tight end. Worst case scenario is that Estandia self-destructs during camp and preseason, and doesn't make the final roster or the practice squad.


Brett Goode
Brett Goode is an undrafted rookie free agent that was signed by the Jaguars almost immediately after the draft. Goode was a long-snapper at Arkansas, and has solid size at 6'1", 244 lbs.

Strengths:
He was invited to the Senior Bowl to long-snap.

Weaknesses:
Who is he? Unproven, inexperienced.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
With a strong camp, Goode might make the practice squad. Worst case scenario is that he remains an unknown commodity and he's looking for work in the fall.


Maurice Jones-Drew
Maurice Jones-Drew is best known for his abilities at running back, but Jones-Drew was also impressive returning kicks in '06. Jones-Drew finished third in the NFL in kickoff return average (27.7 yards per return), and had one kickoff return touchdown.

Strengths:
Very fast and decisive. Can make people miss.

Weaknesses:
None yet discovered.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Jones-Drew has the ability to be a Pro Bowl return man. Worst case scenario is that Jones-Drew has to handle the bulk of the carries at running back, and he doesn't return kicks.


Derrick Wimbush
Derrick Wimbush has been a solid return man for the last two years, ever since making the Jaguars roster as an undrafted free agent rookie. Wimbush had his amount of returns cut considerably last season with Jones-Drew on the roster.

Strengths:
Wimbush is a power kick returner that can run tacklers over.

Weaknesses:
Not much speed, can't break it outside.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Wimbush can fill in at kickoff returner if Jones-Drew's workload at running back gets to be too much. Worst case scenario is that Wimbush gets out-played by a faster guy, and doesn't make the final roster.


Dennis Northcutt
Dennis Northcutt signed with the Jaguars as a free agent back in March, and he will likely start the season as the Jaguars primary punt return man. Northcutt has averaged over 10 yards per return for his career, and has three punt return touchdowns.

Strengths:
Northcutt is illusive and fast. He has "take it to the house" abilities.

Weaknesses:
Northcutt dances around a bit, and can lose yardage looking for the big return.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Northcutt will be the opening day punt returner as long as he's healthy, and could improve the Jaguars special teams mightily. Worst case scenario is that Northcutt gets injured and can't participate in special teams.


Alvin Pearman
Alvin Pearman has been the Jaguars punt returner ever since being drafted in 2004. Pearman is a solid return man who goes north/south, and usually has decent hands.

Strengths:
Pearman never loses yardage on returns.

Weaknesses:
No home-run ability, will never be more than an average returner.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Pearman will need to do something big on special teams to find a spot on the roster. Worst case scenario is that Pearman doesn't do anything spectacular, and doesn't make the 53-man roster.


The Jaguars special teams unit should be improved in '07, with the additions of Podlesh and Northcutt, as well as another year of experience for Scobee and Jones-Drew.



Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to various national news outlets. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association.

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