Jesse James is a 21 year player in his first year in the NFL. James Daniel is a 62 year old coach in his 22nd. So when the latter praises the former, you perk up.
“I think he has grown leaps and bounds. He has more confidence as a football player, confidence as a person. He is a guy that has come in and adjusted well to the surroundings,” James told Teresa Varley for Steelers.com.
James wasn’t able to get a helmet for the first eight weeks even when Matt Spaeth missed time early in the season. But he was finally active in Week Nine against the Oakland Raiders, catching his first touchdown pass. According to Daniel, what the team saw in the game is what they saw in practice.
“Some of those plays he has made, we have seen him make those in practice before he got the opportunity to do it in a game. He has been challenged to wait for the opportunity and then has taken advantage of the opportunity when it came because that is what this business is all about.”
In turn, James has credited his position coach for getting him ready.
“He has been great every step of the way after I got here after the draft. He pushes you to be the best player you can every day and every week.”
It’ll be interesting to see if James remains active once Matt Spaeth comes back from his knee injury. There is no timetable for his return, and considering Spaeth was ruled out last Tuesday, it suggests a relatively serious injury that may have involved surgery. Even with the bye week, there’s no guarantee he will play in Week 12 against the Seattle Seahawks, keeping the door open for James.
If and when Spaeth does return, James will have a difficult time getting a helmet. It might seem logical to grant him a spot over Will Johnson but Johnson is a much more valuable special teamer who plays on several units. Makes it unlikely Johnson would get sat down.