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Jags punting game at issue


Joe DeCamillis' plan to repair the Jaguars special teams will focus on the punt team, a source of frustration for the Jaguars in the 2006 season.

"Your punt team is your most important team. You have to worry about protection first and then you have to cover. It's the only special teams that is an offensive team first and then becomes a special teams. When we had our best special teams in Atlanta, that was our best teams," DeCamillis said.

DeCamillis was hired two weeks ago by head coach Jack Del Rio to fix special teams units that allowed two punts to be returned for touchdowns and another punt to be blocked and recovered for a touchdown. The Jaguars finished the season last in the league in net and gross punting average.

"Fortunately, I think you've got all the components to be one of the top special teams units in the league," DeCamillis said. "We have to get more consistent punting the football. We have to keep the tradition we've had here the past few years. They play hard. They're a smart football team."

DeCamillis has been one of the top special teams mavens in the league for the past several years. He produced top special teams units in Atlanta the past 10 years.

"The return situation is in great shape," DeCamillis said of the Jaguars. "Maurice (Jones-Drew) has a chance to be a difference-maker. Hopefully, he can be your punt-returner and kickoff-returner. I had him rated high in college. I think he has a chance to be a big-time asset. I think Alvin Pearman is also a good punt-returner; always makes good decisions. (Derrick) Wimbush is a powerful guy who gets it north and south.

"You have to have players. I'm going to get with the personnel people as much as I can and get with the coaches and find out what they think of the players. If you don't have personnel, you're not going to be good on teams," DeCamillis added.

In Atlanta, DeCamillis had top return men such as Allen Rossum, Tim Dwight and Darrien Gordon. Travis Jervey and Kevin McCadam were top "gunners" and his kickers and punters were always accomplished in the directional game.

"As far as the punting game, we're a directional team. We'll always have a directional call made. The best punt to me is a 40-yard fair catch. If you get that every time, you're going to lead the league in net and you'll never have a punt returned for a touchdown," DeCamillis said.

"On kickoff coverage, you want to pin the returner against the sideline and eliminate big returns. Forget about return average. If we're last in that, I don't care. The thing I'm concerned about is the starting point," he added.

DeCamillis judged the Jaguars as the best situation among the teams pursuing his services, after losing his job when the Falcons fired head coach Jim Mora Jr.

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