Special Teamers Seize The Moment
By Zac Jackson
This report filed July 10, 2003
Browns Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg
wants players who are knowledgeable, fearless,
and hungry. Whether it's kickoff coverage or
setting up blocks on a punt return, Rosburg wants
his players to carry out their duties with a
sense of urgency.
Seize the moment.
"You get one play to be perfect," Rosburg said.
"It's not like you can go on a 12-play special
teams drive. You get one play to go out there and
go play and give it your best and make an impact
in that game."
In kick returner Andre' Davis and punt returner
Dennis Northcutt, Rosburg has explosive,
game-changing players who cause headaches for
opposing special teams coaches. Both have the
ability to go "to the house" every time they
touch the ball.
The Browns are also confident that veteran kicker
Phil Dawson and punter Chris Gardocki will
continue to be what they have been-reliable and
consistent. The free agency defection of
long-snapper Ryan Kuehl is a significant loss,
but the Browns trust that fifth round draft
choice Ryan Pontbriand will fill in admirably.
"He's doing very well," Rosburg said of
Pontbriand. "I think very highly of him. I like
to sleep on Saturday nights."
Butch Davis feels the same way. He's stressed the
importance of solid special teams play since he
arrived in Cleveland and likes players who are
willing and able to make plays in the kicking
Brant Boyer led the team with 33 special teams
tackles last season and Rosburg expects another
solid effort from the 10-year pro and special
teams captain. He also thinks the team has
players who will fill the void left by the
departure of second-leading tackler Chris Akins
to New England.
"Lewis Sanders made a tremendous improvement as
last season wore on," Rosburg said. "Lew became
what we thought he could become over the course
of the season. He was an impact player on special
teams at the end of the year, both as a gunner
and as a coverage man on kickoffs. He made
plays. My hope and my job is to try to get Lew to
take over where Chris Akins left off and then
have one of the younger players, or some other
player, come in and replace Lew, so to speak."
Other notable special teams returnees include
Michael Jameson, Steve Heiden, Kevin Bentley,
Andra Davis, Ben Taylor, Andre King and Aaron
Shea. They join a speedy rookie class that has
"You just look at our draft choices--we have
improved, in my opinion, our special teams just
by the nature of our draft," he said. "We're
drafting fast, athletic players like Chaun
Thompson and Chris Crocker and Michael Lehan.
"I think we've gained depth and I know we've
gained speed on special teams just by watching
our guys run around. Chaun Thompson can run,
Michael Lehan can run, Chris Crocker was a very
good special teams player at Marshall and there's
a variety of young free agents-somebody is going
to make this team in that group because there's
so many of them that have skills."
The schemes are in place. The talent is there.
And-importantly-the Head Coach trusts that his
special teams are in good hands.
"Jerry Rosburg is doing a hell of a job," Davis
said. "When we get to where we want to be, our
special teams are going to be a big part of us