Jeremy Kerley admits that he "used to hate" returning punts, but he now has come to appreciate special teams and the opportunity it gave him in the NFL.
Kerley, who returned to the Jets this year after spending last season with the 49ers, so far has eight catches for 56 yards in two games. In 2012 with New York, Kerley set a then-NFL record with 36 fair catches in one season. However, in an interview with NJ.com, Kerley said he doesn't dislike the return game, as much as it might appear that way.
"I've learned now that field position is the biggest thing," he said. "I'm just trying to go out there and put us [as an offense] in a good position. It's a whole different thing for me now. I used to hate this [expletive]. I used to hate it [in college]. The only reason I hated it is because everybody just thought, 'Oh, that's all he does.' It's not the only thing I can do.
"When everybody puts that rap on you -- you're just a punt returner -- now I hated the [expletive] because everybody just thinks I'm that. That's the only reason why I say I hated it. I've never minded it in the league. I liked it. It gave me an opportunity, obviously. But I've always seen myself as more than just a punt returner."
So far this season, Kerley has had four chances to catch punts, totaling 31 return yards and one fair catch. He has one return for a touchdown in his career, which came back during the infamous 2012 campaign.
"At the end of the day, it's all about field position. Sometimes, you return. Sometimes, you don't," Kerley said. "Bigger on my part is, I make smart decisions. I'm not just going to go for a home run every time, when I can just take a double or take a single that's going to lead to a home run [for the offense]. It's not always about making the big play.
"Sometimes, you've just got to make the safe decision. That's really your main part, is to get the ball back to the offense. Don't get me wrong. You've got a score mentality. Always got a score mentality. But at the same time, how am I going to do my job trying to be super aggressive and I turn the ball over? Now I put myself and my team in a horrible position."