Jacoby Jones Turning Heads At Returner


Jerry Rosburg knew Jacoby Jones was fast.

But not this fast.

It's clear that the Ravens special teams coordinator has been impressed by what he's seen so far from his newest returner in the team's first two OTAs.

"He's really fast," Rosburg said with a broad smile on Wednesday. "There are certain things you know about a guy, and certain things you don't until you get up close to them."

Jones looks to be the Ravens' first option at punt returner and kick returner heading into 2012. Even though Jones didn't return kickoffs last year with the Houston Texans, Rosburg confirmed he is working at both positions.

"It's good every time I touch the rock to tell you the truth," Jones said of getting back into kickoffs. "It's fun, man. I say it's catch me if you can. When I get a seam, it's emergency rule."

Lardarius Webb handled the majority of punt returns last year, making 30 returns with a 10.0 average and one touchdown. But he signed a big contract to continue growing into a top-flight cornerback this offseason.

Jerry Rosburg On Jacoby Jones' Speed

David Reed was the team's primary kick returner until he tore his ACL, from which he is still trying to rebound. He was replaced by Tom Zbikowski, who is now in Indianapolis.

The Ravens drafted cornerback and returner Asa Jackson in the fifth round, but he's currently stuck at school because of an NFL rule, and doesn't have as much experience as Jones.

Serving as the Texans' full-time punt returner, Jones averaged 10.6 yards per return last year with one touchdown and five returns over 40 yards. He didn't do kickoff returns, but did for much of the previous two seasons and owns a career 23.3-yard average.

"He's got a lot of different skills, but the thing that stands out is he understands how fast he is, and he's able to draw people in and then beat them," Rosburg said. "Some guys are fast but don't know how to use their speed. Jacoby's fast and he knows how to use his speed. That's probably the thing that stands out to me."

Asked for the biggest key in generating more production in the return game, Rosburg first pointed to returner.

The Ravens averaged 9.6 yards per punt return last year, ranked 19th in the league. They averaged 24.9 yards per kick return (ninth).

"We have a guy now that's been successful, has experience being a returner, and that's part of it," Rosburg said.

Jones has jumped head first into his special-teams assignment with the Ravens. He's at practice every day fielding punts from Sam Koch whenever he can.

"What I didn't know is how hard of a worker he is and what a good teammate he is," Rosburg said. "He's excited about the opportunity to contribute on special teams, along with his offensive role. So, that's probably the thing that's been really heartening to see."

Jones has been working on his patience as a punt returner.

He said that he's been returning for so long that immediately upon kickoff, he can see the protection spreads and where he's going to go. He said that excitement is what has led to fumbles.

Jones had two fumbles in the divisional playoff game against the Ravens last year. One happened in the shadow of his end zone and led to a quick Ravens touchdown.

"Of course it ate me up a lot, but I'm over it. It's been erased," Jones said. "The biggest thing as a returner is getting 10 yards first. That's an extra first down."

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