If there's one thing any special teams coach has to deal with, it's personnel change.
From teamers becoming starters (and vice versa) to injuries and rookies and free agents, the turnover occurs season to season and week to week – more so than offense and defense.
That's why coordinator Tom Quinn has been working and re-working since the Super Bowl as he ushers in the new faces, fitting them in with the old ones.
"Each year we look at our roster and have to figure out who the 53 and the 46 is going to be for game day," Quinn said on Tuesday. "We try to determine what guys can fill those roles and it's ever changing for special teams. We never get too hooked up with a guy because once you start feeling comfortable with a guy then he's starting or he's a free agent. We're used to the change and having to get guys ready for that role."
One area that won't be changing is the core of the field goal unit, which returns the same kicker (Lawrence Tynes), long snapper (Zak DeOssie), and holder (Steve Weatherford). With few problems on punt and kickoff coverage last season, that leaves questions in the return game, which hasn't had a touchdown since Domenik Hixon did so on a punt in 2009.
Wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan could be the solution in either return roles. While he didn't record a catch last season as a rookie, he did contribute on kickoffs with eight returns for a 23.3-yard average (long of 31)
Quinn said Jernigan is catching the ball better and getting started better, as evidenced by solid play in practice so far.
"As soon as they can find the first vertical seam, we want them to take it," Quinn said. "We want as many positive yards as we can. He can stretch and cut and that's a great ability to have."
Meanwhile, rookies Rueben Randle and Jayron Hosley have also been getting work in, but Quinn will wait to see how they do live this Friday in the first preseason game in Jacksonville.
"I'm happy with that group," Quinn said. "We need to see the three rookies that we have back there, so that'll be exciting for us to see…Hosley has done some good things as well and he's got some experience coming from Virginia Tech. Rueben Randle's a guy that we've worked back there. I know that he's done it in practice in college but he has been behind two very good punt returners; one that's in the league and one that will be in the league soon.
"(Randle) has very good hands. Sometimes he's almost too confident with his hands and he catches the ball as if he's catching a pass instead of getting up and underneath it. He covers more ground than it appears because he's a long smooth strider, but he does have the ability to stick his foot in the ground from what it looks like in practice."