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Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Lane is key element to Seahawks' punt coverage unit

RENTON -- Even dreadlocks aren't safe when the Seattle Seahawks Jeremy Lane is racing downfield in punt coverage.
The Rams' Janoris Jenkins and his sprawling tubes of hair learned this when Lane reached out and snagged Jenkins on a punt return in last month's game in St. Louis. Lane ended up with a handful of hair, but held up Jenkins long enough for another member of the Seahawks special team unit to make the tackle.
"That was the first guy I ever did that to," Lane said. "I didn't mean to. I didn't even know until I saw the film."
Quietly, Lane is having a spectacular season as a gunner in punt coverage. In his second year out of Northwestern St. (La.), Lane has helped the Seahawks to one of the most staggering statistics of the NFL season.
Punt returners are averaging 1.4 yards per return against Seattle. That's the lowest mark in the league. The next closest is St. Louis at 3.2.
Rangy, fast and spirited, the 6-foot, 190-pound Lane has a lot to do with the success of the Seahawks' punt coverage unit.
He played special teams throughout college in addition to being a starting cornerback.
The Seahawks picked him 172nd overall in the 2012 NFL draft. Considering his draft position and the Seahawks starting cornerbacks -- Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner -- Lane had to find a way to stick. Which would be on special teams.
"I look at it as a way of playing," Lane said. "I am trying to get on the field any way I can. Ever since I was a little kid, that's what I thought about. For the NFL, fortunately, that was the special teams. It keeps me on the field, so, I love it."
In his rookie season in 2012, Lane made five special teams tackles and already has seven this season, which ties him for the team lead. All seven are solo tackles.
Each week, Lane devises a plan with special teams coaching assistant Nick Sorensen. They track if other teams tend to use an outside "vice" to double team the gunner or leave him with a single blocker.
Like a boxer, Lane tries to develop counter moves. He jab steps outside, then cuts up and in. He varies angles. Whatever gets him off the line of scrimmage rapidly.
"Win at the line of scrimmage. I'd say that is the big key," Lane said. "Once you win at the line of scrimmage, everything else is reacting."
Special teams coordinator Brian Schneider is thrilled with Lane because Lane is excelling in three phases: getting off the line of scrimmage, general effort, then tackling at the end.
"His effort to get to the ball just jumps out on tape," Schneider said.
Though his name has come up as a contender to make the Pro Bowl, Lane isn't on the official ballot. Seahawks special teams captain Heath Farwell -- who is equally impressed with Lane -- is the Seattle special teams candidate.
Which means Lane will continue his business with quiet efficiency and joy. And, at times, a handful of hair.

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