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Podlesh recovers in practice


Adam Podlesh was back on the field Monday morning, booming his punts and doing his best to wash away the bad taste from Friday's scrimmage. He succeeded.

"I feel really confident," Podlesh said following practice. "I was frustrated about what happened in the scrimmage and I need to treat that situation as a game. I punted the ball really well today."

Podlesh is bearing more than the usual pressure a rookie punter faces because Podlesh isn't your run-of-the-mill rookie punter. He's a fourth-round draft pick who was named the team's starting punter by no less than the head coach, and only a few hours after the Jaguars drafted Podlesh. Then, to confirm Podlesh's place on the depth chart, veteran punter Chris Hanson was released two days later.

It was of notable concern, therefore, when Podlesh's punts went plop instead of pop on Friday. Does the Jaguars' punting game, last in the league last season, have the right guy?

Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis wasn't in the mood on Monday to dismiss Friday's failures, but DeCamillis remains confident in Podlesh's ability.

"He didn't punt well on Friday, but up to that point he had been having a good camp. The one real positive for him was that, though those punts may not have had good hang time, they did have good direction," DeCamillis said.

DeCamillis' philosophy of punting is all about direction. Monday morning's special teams practice included a lengthy directional-punting drill, in which Podlesh thumped two directional punts with enough force to have sent them over the fence and onto the street. Seven hundred fifty-three more of those and Podlesh will tie Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron.

Those boots, however, are symbolic of how well Podlesh hit the ball on Monday, and into the wind, no less. He's been doing it in practice since mini-camp. All that's left now is to do the same in a game situation, which he'll have an opportunity to do this Saturday in Miami.

"I'm going to try to get into a routine; taking it as a professional. I compare it to golf. You don't want to listen to heavy metal on the way to the golf course. I'm learning that," Podlesh said.

"I feel a lot more centered," he added.

The training camp barber got to Podlesh last Wednesday, leaving him with a haircut so disturbing that it may have messed up his head for Friday's scrimmage. Is that what it was? Is the haircut to blame, Podlesh was asked?

"It's not the haircut," he said, laughing. "It's not the way anybody's treated me. It's not anything I ate, but it's not anything that serious either. I came out here like there's no stress from Friday, and I had a very consistent day."

Saturday's preseason-opener will tell us more.

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