If there was one thing evident at the press conferences today with the assistant coaches, it was this: Lots of people still love returner/receiver Brandon Banks.
Of course, it’s better to be loved at the end of preseason than at the beginning. Four games can change opinions. But heading into the exhibition opener vs. Buffalo, it’s clear that Banks remains popular among the coaches. Coach Mike Shanahan said the third-year pro, primarily a kick returner in the past, must prove himself as a wide receiver to make the roster. He’s looked good in practice, but the games matter more.
Here’s receivers coach Ike Hilliard on Banks: “The little guy. I love Banks. He’s one of my favorite guys. Before me arriving here I was talking to Banks and I asked him if he wanted to play wide receiver and he politely responded, ‘well I guess you didn’t check my resume.’ I enjoyed that response and I’ve enjoyed him continuing to grow daily as a receiver. He just hasn’t had the opportunity to do it to this point. He’s showing up on the practice field, making a few big plays. We’re hoping that can carry over….The thing with Banks at the line of scrimmage is he’s notorious for getting lazy with his hands. We’ve been working on that.”
Now offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan on Banks: “I love Banks. Banks gets the ball in his hand on special teams and makes a lot of plays and a few times we’ve gotten it to him on offense and he made a lot of plays, too. Banks has really challenged himself to be more consistent, to really look at himself as a receiver so he can get in that rotation. We’ve got some good players that are after Pierre Garçon. Between Aldrick Robinson and Anthony Armstrong, all guys who can run, all guys who are capable of backing up Pierre at that spot and Banks is right there in the mix. We all know he can make plays but so can those other guys. So Banks is really trying to show us how consistent he can be with just knowing where to go, getting his depth and being an everyday receiver instead of kind of just a gadget guy. He is showing us that he’s been a lot more consistent. He came with his mind right. I think he’s a lot healthier than he’s been in the past and I’m excited about it.”
And, finally, special teams coach Danny Smith: “I think the world of him. I think he’s a playmaker, he’s a chunk-yardage guy, and you have to get chunks in this league. If you look at every time he touches the ball in situations on offense, he got a chunk. Some of them have been called back and things like that. It’s hard to drive the ball against people in this league and you get chunk-yardage players, so it didn’t put me in any different position, I like it. It doesn’t affect anything. He will still be a punt returner, a kick returner, that kind of thing. Obviously it’s the head coach’s decision, but I think it’s a great idea personally.”
And more Smith: “Brandon and I meet on a regular basis. I stood on the table for the guy. He’s had some issues. He and I meet every day and go through that day, that night, that afternoon, where you’re going, who you’re with. I get good answers, bad answers. He and I have a pretty good relationship. I think he has really grown-up as a pro. He has grown up like a lot of guys do. Some guys at different stages in life, not just professional athletes, they get it, and right now I’m going to tell you, he got it. I think he is making better decisions. I think he is taking better care of his body. I think he is working harder. He’s in better shape. He’s in condition. He lifts. He gained weight. So I’m going to stand on the table for the guy.”
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