Coach Ron Rivera says he may have expected too much out of rookie return man Joe Adams, and the Carolina Panthers will be more patient before they send him back on the field.
“We want to get him back to where he was as a returner,” Rivera said. “In retrospect, we may have expected a little too much from him as far as trying to return kicks as well. We want to give him a chance to step back, work on his craft and get comfortable catching the ball again.”
Adams said earlier in the week he was “a little surprised” when he found his was inactive an hour and a half before kickoff of last Sunday’s Atlanta game. But the rookie out of Arkansas had muffed a punt and fumbled a kickoff against the New York Giants in Week Two.
Replacing him on kickoff was Kealoha Pilares, who had that role last season. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn returned punts last Sunday for the first time since the 2010 season.
With cornerback Chris Gamble potentially out for Sunday’s contest against Seattle, Rivera said he may also use last year’s punt returner, Armanti Edwards, to return some punts so Munnerlyn is not over-worked.
Adams averages 8.4 yards per punt return and 23.1 yards per kickoff return this season. But Adams has a habit of looking downfield before securing the ball – something the Panthers have worked to correct.
“When you do watch on some of his college tape, it was his tendency to catch the ball with eyes down instead of into the catch,” Rivera said. “We’re trying to get him back to that point. We’re telling him to work to get downhill and then make your move.
“The punt return has got to make the first guy miss, and if we’re not helping him and that first guy’s on him immediately, there is that jitterbug style. So what we’d like we do is make sure we’re giving him every opportunity to succeed if we’re out there blocking for him.”