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The Emergence Of Eric Weems

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Normally we'd have a Saturday news roundup, but since there's no game we're going to narrow the focus to what would have been a single one of those items. Let no man say I cannot focus, even if ooo shiny.

Eric Weems clawed his way into a roster spot and a special teams return role after Harry Douglas was broken in twain in the pre-season, and it's his play in that role that's beginning to really draw a lot of attention. Special teams does tend to get lost in the shuffle in the face of our talented offense (who underperformed for one week only, one hopes) and our Jekyll and Hyde defense, but as Michael Koenen and Jason Elam proved last year, they can play an absolutely critical role in determining how the team's going to do. Koenen provided a lot of teams with terrible field position in 2008, a perfect fit for a defense that rarely was able to prevent a march most of the way down the field.

Weems brings something a little different to the table. When I watched him against the Patriots last week, I was struck by how explosive he looked returning the ball. It's early yet, but he's averaging 27 yards on kick returns and over 10 yards on punt returns. That's good for sixth in the league in kick return yardage, behind guys like Minnesota's Percy Harvin, who took one from coast to coast last weekend. Compare that to well-known special teams ace Jerious Norwood, who may be playing his last year with the Falcons and carried a 25.7 average per kick return last year, and it's easy to see why Weems is valuable. He's cheap, he plays well and he runs damn hard.

With his value set once the ball's in the air, I'd really love to see what the fast and shifty Weems could do in the receiving game. Teams are going to increasingly aim to take Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White out of games, and when they do, other receivers have to step up. Michael Jenkins, Marty Booker and Brian Finneran all offer excellent hands but not blazing speed, so if Weems can catch a little too he'd add another dimension to the passing game. I do think our offensive lethargy against the Patriots was a fluke, nothing more, but it never hurts to have more options.

What do you expect from Mr. Weems?