Feature article on Davone Bess returning punts for Miami

PBP = Palm Beach Post

PBP Note: “A free-agent rookie from Hawaii, Bess finished sixth in the AFC and 10th overall in punt returns with an 11-yard average. He proved a significant upgrade over fellow receiver Ted Ginn Jr., who averaged just 7.8 yards on seven returns.”

About how Bess did well last season but will do even better, special teams coach John Bonamego said:
“And we haven’t seen his best yet. He’s improved and he’ll continue to improve.” (PBP)

PBP Note: “A solidly built 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, Bess, 23, brings similar attributes to the job as Reggie Bush, whom Bonamego had in his last coaching stop at New Orleans before coming to Miami last season.”

Praising Bess, Bonamego said:
“Davone’s a guy who’s built low to the ground, who’s got very good initial quickness, and he’s strong. For a guy who’s not really big, he’s built more like a running back. He’s not easy to knock off his feet.” (PBP)

PBP Note: “Bess didn’t fumble any punt returns and he employed the same sure hands to catch 54 passes as a rookie – just two fewer than Ginn, the team leader.”

Asked if he was surprised to be just 2 receptions away from leading the Dolphins last season, Bess said:
“I wouldn’t say it surprises me because I expect perfection. I’m my toughest critic. I can control the situation and I’m trying to make the most of it.” (PBP)

PBP Note: “That reliability is big with Bonamego, whose 10 seasons in the NFL have been spent coaching special teams in Jacksonville (1999-2002), Green Bay (2003-05), New Orleans (2006-07) and Miami.”

About the importance of not turning the ball over during punt returns, Bonamego said:
“There’s so much at stake. We talk about it with all the guys: We’re out there because the defense did its job. The next play can be only one of two things, either Chad Pennington taking the snap under center or, once or twice a year when the stars align, we’re going out to kick an extra point.” (PBP)

Bonamego calls returning punts:
“one of the hardest jobs there is in football.” (PBP)

About the 10 defenders running at him full speed when the punt is in the air, Bess said:
“I’m not worried about them. I’m worried about securing the ball first, and then visualizing who’s here and there. When I drop back I’m looking at the ball, and I’ll take a peek for a quick second and then my eyes are right back on the ball. That’s the No. 1 objective, to make sure the ball comes in clean.” (PBP)

PBP Note: “Once the ball is secured, the job of getting upfield is so instinctive that neither Bonamego nor Bess have found it instructive to watch tapes of top returners such as Bush or Chicago’s Devin Hester.”

About how it isn’t useful to study other punt returners to help Bess, Bonamego said:
“What Devin Hester can do well and Davone Bess can do well are two different things.” (PBP)

About watching film of Hester and Bush returning punts, Bess said:
“When I watch film it looks like they’re freelancing. It looks like they’re just getting the ball and going. To be honest that’s something I need to work on – just attacking. Attack the defenders and let my technique take over.” (PBP)

PBP Note: “While every top 10 punt returner last season had a runback of 40 yards or more, Bess’ longest was a 27-yarder against San Francisco. Bonamego said he had two others of 20-plus yards called back by penalties, but Bess recalled a few that he could have taken all the way.”

About how he was close to breaking a few returns last season, Bess said:
“I was either one guy away, or two tackles away. It’s just a situation where we all have to be on the same page. We’ve got to keep working to get better.” (PBP)

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/dolphins/content/sports/epaper/2009/06/16/0616bess.html

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