DAVIE – Fielding punts is not something that comes naturally to most. There’s no denying Darren Rizzi on that point.
It may come naturally to Jakeem Grant in 2017.
Rizzi, the Dolphins’ associate head coach and special teams coordinator, said between OTAs and minicamp, Grant will field in the vicinity of 1,000 punts as he works on ball security.
Rizzi said that during exit interviews after last season, Grant volunteered that he was disappointed in himself. He’d created a culture in which Rizzi couldn’t be confident Grant wouldn’t turn the ball over.
This helps explain the scene late in Monday’s drenched practice. Grant’s routine is to catch 30 to 40 balls before practice, 10-15 during practice and another 30 or 40 after. Except rain interfered.
“He was a little disappointed,” Rizzi said. “He looked at me like I was crazy because our JUGS machine – when it’s wet at the end of practice, you can’t shoot the JUGS – and he was looking at me like, ‘What are we doing?’ because he had been doing it every day.”
Rizzi seems patient with the speedy second-year player.
“I’ve seen some great, great, great, talented players that couldn’t catch a punt,” Rizzi said. “A bunch of them. Hall of Famers.”
Grant has been consistent enough in workouts that have been open to the media that Rizzi was asked if Grant’s fielding percentage was 100 percent.
“No,” Rizzi said. “He has not caught every single one, but he certainly looked much improved.”
We’ll know more under the lights in August, but the signs are good.
“He looks a lot more comfortable back there,” Rizzi said.
Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook