ESPN: Jacoby Ford driven to do it all for Oakland
If the Mile High air cooperates just a little, Oakland's Jacoby FordJacoby Ford
# 5-9, 175
West Palm Beach, FL
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“I’m bringing that first one out,” said Ford, almost in sync with the question when asked his thoughts on the new kickoff rule that is expected to hinder kick returns. “I know it's Denver and I might not have my chance, but I’m bringing it out of the end zone every time I get (a reasonable) chance. That’s what I thought when I first saw the rule. I’m bringing it out.”
This spring, the NFL owners passed a rule that will put the ball at the 35-yard line instead of the 30 on kickoffs. Thus, more touchbacks are expected.
Ford’s aggression is admirable. He’s one of the NFL’s premier return men after just one season in the league. He figures to be one of the players most at risk of suffering from the new rule, which is designed around safety.
Ford -- a fourth-round pick from Clemson in 2010 -- returned three kickoffs for touchdowns last season, an Oakland single-season record. All three returns came in the final two months of the season.
“It’s going to be tougher,” Ford said. “But I’ll be ready.”
The beauty of Ford's skill set is that he will not be neutralized totally if the new rule does, indeed, hamper the return game. Ford is not a one-trick pony.
Ford shocked the league with his ability to be a quality receiver last season. He entered the league with a reputation as a super-fast return man (he was the fastest player at the 2010 NFL combine), but was considered an unpolished receiver with poor hands.
“I heard it all,” Ford said this week from California, where is working out. “I was a reverse guy, a screen guy. I was short, I ran horrible routes, I wasn’t polished. I heard every one of them … I think, so far, I’ve proved I can be more than a returner.”
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