We all know Miami Dolphins receiver and kick returner Jakeem Grant is fast. But on Wednesday he was showing other traits that could factor in his ongoing NFL success:
Grant last week returned a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown. The electric play against the Tennessee Titans in the Miami Dolphins season opener was impressive enough that it earned Grant NFL special teams player of the week.
But, excuse Grant if he isn’t already thinking of bigger things.
“That’s just a stepping stone,” Grant said of that touchdown. “I want to go out and make a big play like that every Sunday. That’s only setting the standard.”
Now, before you scoff at such lofty aspirations, consider that they might be based on some logic.
The NFL, you see, changed the kickoff rules in the offseason. And three of the new rules may be benefiting players such at Grant.
Those new rules:
The players on the kickoff team cannot line up any deeper than one yard off the ball, which is placed at the 35-yard line. Previously, players could line up five yards off the ball and get a running start.
The kickoff team must line up with five players on each side of the ball (five players, the kicker in the middle, and five more players.) Previously, a team could line up four players on one side and six on the other. So team can’t overload and kick away from a bigger return threat.
Another new rule is that at least two players must line up outside of the yard-line number and two players between the inbound line and yard-line number. Previously, at least three players on the kickoff team had to line up outside each inbound line.
“Yes, it’s going to benefit us as a unit because the guys are not getting down there as fast,” Grant said. “With those guys that are in the front line blocking for me and the guys on the back end blocking for me, they get to see exactly who they’ve got and they can avoid the twisters and everything.
“For me, I can see on the back end exactly what hole to hit and it’s a much clearer picture.”
It was so easy against the Titans that Grant says he wasn’t even touched on his kickoff return. Grant said he “didn’t have to do anything but run.”
And he expects it won’t be the last time.
“Just showing the world and showing the other NFL teams that our return unit is going to be a force to be reckoned with this season,” Grant said. “If they’re going to kick it to us, then we’re going to go out there and make a big play.”