Ah, special teams, the true X-Factors of football. Always underappreciated, always overlooked, and always highly criticized when something goes wrong. This will be mini X-Factor article to finish up this series. Now that this is done with, let's get this party started.
The first X-Factor of Special Teams is Deji Karim. Deji was the Jaguars' 6th round pick (180th overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft. He became a bit of a preseason sensation as he averaged 32.8 yards per return and he ultimately led league in return yardage in the preseason. In the regular season, he was a constant force, showing a few flashes throughout the year. There was not a bigger example than the Raiders game, in which he set up a 30 yard winning touchdown run by Maurice Jones-Drew by taking a kickoff return 65 yards. Now, he needs to start getting into the endzone. Having teams kick away from him sets up the next player on this list…
Scotty McGee was also a 6th round draft pick (203rd overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft. While Deji Karim led the league in the preseason in return yards, Scotty McGee was second, averaging 29.3 yards per return He was also effective in punt returns as well, averaging 9.9 yards per return. However, McGee was sidelined for the year, due to a shoulder injury that he sustained in the final preseason game. If teams start kicking away from Deji Karim, he could have a chance to shine.
(Undrafted) Free Agent X-Factor: Mark Herzlich
If you have been following football for the past few years, you probably have heard of Mark Herzlich. The skinny is that in 2008, he was considered a consensus 1st round draft pick as a linebacker out of Boston College. However, during the offseason of the following year, he was diagnosed with a rare type of bone cancer, forcing him to sit out a year. However, his senior year was basically average, leaving him undrafted. Therefore, with a weakness at linebacker and Gene Smith's fondness for high character individuals that work and play hard, he might be a perfect fit for the Jaguars. Why special teams, you might ask? With the lockout, he probably won't be starting at linebacker this year, but he can pull a Terrell Davis. That is, to make a big play in the preseason, especially on special teams, in order to propel one's career to greater heights. In TD's case, it was a Hall of Fame career; for Herzlich, it might propel him into a long and successful career as a Jacksonville Jaguar.
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