Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jumping at His Chance Kopp Likes Special-Teams Role

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jumping at His Chance Kopp Likes Special-Teams Role

Article excerpt

If Jeff Kopp decides he wants to recreate Mark Gastineau's sack

dance after making a big play on special teams, he asks not to

be judged too harshly.

"When special teams is all you really play during a game,

you're only in about about one out of every 10, 15 plays, and so

you get so geared up for that one play," Kopp said. "You see a

special teams player make a play, and they're going to raise

their arms and go crazy. You don't get that many opportunities

to make a play during a game, so when you're out there, you give

it everything you've got.

"Maybe I get a little more excited than other guys for that one

play. That doesn't mean I'm crazy or anything. I love going down

on the kickoff and making a play. That's very exciting to me. If

I can be the guy down there to make a play, you should be able

to get up and celebrate. It's not self-promotion. That's genuine

excitement coming out."

Chances are Kopp isn't going to imitate Gastineau, but the

Jaguars reserve linebacker is working to put himself in the

position to dance. He leads the team with three tackles and has

upgraded the position next to kicker Mike Hollis.

"Jeff is definitely the most improved special teams player this

year," said special teams coordinator Larry Pasquale. "Jeff came

in the middle of the year [1996]. He didn't have the advantage

of a training camp with us. He really didn't know a lot of the

ideas, schemes and techniques that we teach. He was prepared

in [this season's] training camp because he never missed a

day. He was able to show up to every practice and every drill

and he improved constantly.

"We actually put Jeff in a pretty focal position. [The spots

next to Hollis] is an area which we, through our research, said

we must upgrade. We put Jeff there because we have that much

confidence in him being able to help us. He is the leading

tackler now, so our confidence in him has been justified."

Kopp, drafted in the sixth round by Miami in 1995 and signed by

the Jaguars as a free agent after the fourth week of the 1996

season, appears headed for a career as a special teams player. …

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