Falcons Coach Defends Rookie Return Man

Falcons special team coach Marquice Williams comes to the defense of rookie punt returner Avery Williams

Atlanta Falcons special teams coach Marquice Williams has several weapons at his disposal including cornerback Avery Williams who was a return specialist at Boise State last year.

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Williams was asked if he thought it was a rookie mistake when Avery Williams let the ball bounce inside the ten yard line on a would be return. Williams was quick to defend the decision made based on the location of the punt.

"Once to the opponents get to around the logo area," said Smith, "they're trying to pin our team back. We have a rule, we have a certain yard line that we line up our returners, and we don't want them to drift back. We don't want them to catch the ball within a certain yard line."

"I thought Avery made a great decision, because if you see where that ball bounced, it bounces inside the five to eight yard line. It took a good bounce. Give credit to Philadelphia's [Arryn] Siposs for hitting two good punts inside the ten yard line."

"I thought Avery made great decision making when it comes to that. Sometimes you get guys that will drift back and catch that ball inside the five, and now we're in a situation where we're going to put our offense in bad field position (or worse)."

"Now if that ball were to hit around the 12 yard line, 15 yard line and he didn't catch it, and then it rolled back inside the five, that's hidden yardage that we lost as a return unit."

"So I thought Avery, last weekend, those two punts in particular when he didn't field them, he made great decisions on those opportunities. They just had a good bounce. So give credit to Philly on that."

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Williams has had plenty of experience in the return game, and that was the primary reason he was selected by the Falcons in the fifth-round in April's NFL Draft.

Williams was a consensus All-American in 2020, just the 16th Mountain West player to earn that honor. Williams led the nation with four special teams touchdowns, scoring on a pair of kickoff returns and two punt returns. He is the only player who ranked in the top 20 nationally in both punt returns (third, 15.3 yards) and kickoff returns (12th, 28.1 yards).

He's a dynamic punt and kick returner and his coach is pleased with his decision making after his first NFL game.

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Williams will get another chance to show off his punt return skills on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. in Tampa.