Rebel Safeties Coach Kim Dameron made it crystal clear that his group of players isn't a finished product yet, but he had no major issues with the way they played in the season opener, a 41-24 victory over Memphis last Saturday.
"I was pleased with their play in the opener. Jamarca (Sanford) and Kendrick (Lewis) did some really good things," said Dameron. "Jamarca had a bunch of tackles (13) and I think he made the first three tackles of the game. Kendrick had the interception and three other pass breakups. I thought both of them were very productive.
"And I was very glad to see Johnny Brown come in and make some plays. He's a physical kid and he used that to make some big tackles for us. I was happy with all three of them."
Fon Ingram, also under Dameron's wing, also played some in nickel and dime sets.
"When (CB) Cassius (Vaughn) went out, we had to shift some people around and Fon is our backup dime guy," Kim explained. "He made some mistakes, but he did OK. There were some technique errors and little things, but nothing glaring and things we can correct."
The ongoing battle between Lewis and Brown at free safety has helped solidify Johnny as the number three safety. He backs both Sanford and Lewis.
"I taught them all both positions. Johnny is the next guy in the game, period, at either position," noted Dameron. "Johnny will get more snaps this week than he did last week. I meant to play him more against Memphis, but the other two were doing well and were not tired.
"Johnny got behind a little with the August injury he had and Kendrick and Jamarca had a good chemistry going out there that I didn't want to mess with too much. I planned on playing all three of them and actually Johnny went in on the third series of the game."
Last season, Lewis had some tackling issues. Has he shored those up?
"Fundamentally, he has gotten much better becuse he has worked at it hard and he takes pride in the way he practices," Dameron said. "He and Jamarca have done the little things in practice to make themselves surer tacklers. Is Kendrick going to miss some tackles? Sure he is. You can't play in this league and expect to make every tackle, but I am pleased with the progress he has made in that area.
"Where he has improved the most though is being able to recognize formations, watch the quarterback's eyes and break on the ball. He's always around the ball now. That is something that wasn't always there. Jamarca is also doing better in pass coverage and his hands have improved."
Overall, Dameron likes the direction his guys are going in.
"We can always do better and there are things we have to keep working on. We can get a lot better, but so far my guys are off to a good start," closed Kim.
It's hard to ask for much more than that - for now.
Kim Dameron -
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