The Jets special teams committed one of its biggest blunders of the season Sunday in a loss to the Panthers, when it allowed a backbreaking punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Now the coverage unit will be forced to bounce back this week against perhaps its biggest challenge yet: Chiefs punt returner Tyreek Hill.
“He’s as special guy as I’ve ever seen in person. …There is not a guy with more juice than that guy,” said Jets special teams coordinator Brant Boyer, who worked out Hill before the 2016 draft. “He has done a fantastic job of coming in this league and doing everything I thought he was going to do. He’s a special, special athlete and his burst, his acceleration, his patience, he has it all. He really does. He’s as good as I’ve ever seen.”
As a high-school track star, Hill recorded world-class times in the 100- and 200-meter races, and that speed has translated to the NFL. He took a punt back 82 yards for a score in a Week 5 win over the Texans and is averaging 8.5 yards on 19 punt returns this season.
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“You have to get your spacing, you have to stop the vertical. There are so many things that you have to hope that go right,” Boyer said. “The punter and the gunner have to try to control them. … It’s a unit-wide deal that situationally you have to make the right calls. You just can’t give him the big opportunities that if you miss-hit balls and things like that. He’s a guy that can wreck a game.”
“He’s faster than everyone else,” added Josh Martin, one of the Jets’ special teams leaders. “We just got to stay disciplined and stay in our lanes and converge on the ball.”
Cornerback Juston Burris (concussion) did not practice Friday and is out for Sunday’s contest against Kansas City.
Running back Matt Forte (knee), right guard Brian Winters (ankle, abdomen) and defensive lineman Xavier Cooper (knee) are all questionable and will be game-time decisions.
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Winters sprained his ankle against the Panthers, and Bowles said that’s the injury that would prevent the offensive lineman from playing. Dakota Dozier would start at right guard if Winters is unable to go, according to Bowles. Forte is still dealing with swelling in his surgically repaired right knee, though he said Thursday that the knee is feeling much better “internally.”
Burris is the Jets’ fourth cornerback. Bowles said Robert Nelson, rookie Derrick Jones and Rashard Robinson — who the Jets dealt a fourth-round pick for at the trade deadline — are possibilities to fill in for Burris.
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