Bobby April knows that a lot of his special teams corps this year will be made up of rookies. When you have a 13-player draft class, it's difficult to find a spot on offense or defense for most of the rookies, especially early on. So for players like linebackers Keenan Clayton and Jamar Chaney, safety Kurt Coleman, and wide receiver Riley Cooper, just to name a few, productivity may have to come on April's special teams.
As April prepares for that likelihood, he knows that his biggest challenge is getting players who were stars during their respective collegiate career to buy into the requisite special teams mentality.
"That's the biggest challenge," April said. "If you haven't been rewarded for anything, there's not a whole lot of incentive to do it. And they haven't been rewarded for special teams. They didn't get their scholarship for playing special teams and they didn't get drafted for playing special teams. So, to me, that's the number one challenge, to get them to play as hard, as fast and as relentless as possible and know that it may be done in total anonymity."
But a lot of these rookies are well-suited for the role. Chaney, for instance, was the fastest linebacker timed at the combine in the 40-yard dash. And for his part, April has already uncovered the film on the rookies' collegiate special teams careers, most of which is done in the freshman and sophomore years. It's also not disconcerting for April to have to implement new players into his special teams unit because that's the life of a special teams coordinator.
"There's so much turnover (on special teams) that you have to reintroduce everything every year," April said. "You have to almost start from scratch. There's a lot less carryover in that area because the bottom portion of your roster changes so much that I start from scratch regardless. And there are pros and cons to that. Sometimes that younger guy, that tough, young scrapper, has got a tough, young, scrapper mentality that's a little bit more intense than that older guy."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 12:23 p.m., August 2