More often than not, special teams are forgotten in the midst of an NFL game. However, Las Vegas Raiders safety Jeff Heath believes they shouldn’t be slept on.
This past offseason, the Raiders signed Jeff Heath to bolster their secondary but also to contribute on special teams. Last year, the safety played 719 snaps on defense and 160 on special teams. His versatility to play anywhere on defense and his special team prowess will make him a core player in Las Vegas.
Raiders: The Unnoticed Part of The Game
In the latest Under Further Review Podcast, Heath discusses the crucial role special teams play in a football game.
“It’s funny. Special kind of goes unnoticed until something really bad happens. Til like a punt is blocked or you give a kick return for a touchdown. It’s like that’s the tough part about special teams, you only get one play. You know, [on] offense, you get second down. Special teams you only have one play to get it right, and if it’s wrong, everybody is gonna know, and if it’s right, most of the time unless it’s a spectacular play… If you just do your job, it kind of goes unnoticed. It goes unnoticed for fans. People who are involved in the game, myself, coaches, people who’ve played obviously know how important it is. Really, it can be the deciding factor. Normally, it is the deciding factor in just about every single game in some way or another. Field position is so important.”
Basically, special teams is like good offensive line play. Plenty of fans will only notice them when something goes wrong or something extraordinary happens.
Boosting the Odds to Stick with the Team
Later, Heath talks about how special teams can help young players make the team and work on their craft.
“So many guys whom I’ve played with and whom I played against especially guys that came from small schools like myself. Special teams kind of just get your foot on the door and allows you to continue develop other parts of the game, defensively, offensively. Hopefully one day, be at the level where the coach is comfortable putting you in or defense or offense. There’s other guy’s who play 15 years and they play special teams go to the go to the Pro Bowl they are All-Pro teams keep those teams around because they understand how important it is. Special teams is so important.”
Heath is totally right. Hall-of-Fame running back Terrell Davis started his career playing in special teams. More recently, new Raiders linebacker Cory Littleton used special teams as a means to get better.
This upcoming season, Heath will have an immediate an immediate impact for the Raiders wherever he plays.
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