Rookie Solomon Patton has been moved into a starting role as both a kick returner and punt returner.
Saturday night against the Dolphins, he averaged 10.7 yards per punt return and 30.3 yards per kickoff return on six combined returns.
“I think things went great. I just try to take advantage of every opportunity that I can get,” said Patton, a standout special teams performer at the University of Florida who set a school record his senior season, averaging 29 yards per kick return.
But he’d never caught punts in games at Florida — just in practice. It’s a skill he worked hard to master throughout camp.
“Since day one that I got here, I’ve made sure every day that I was out early, and even after, catching punts just focusing on looking the ball all the way in. I think I did a good job of doing that Saturday also.”
Head coach Lovie Smith admitted after Saturday’s game that the 5-foot-9 undrafted free agent has come a long way since rookie minicamp.
“I’ll go all the way back to when he first stepped out at One Buc Place – he dropped a lot of balls. But he’s really caught the ball well, and he’s got great speed and quickness. So, we’re pretty excited about giving him the opportunity, and I thought he got better and better each punt return. You know, small guy but likes to hit it up in there. Impressive opening game for him.”’