We continue our focus on the assistant coaches with this, the first part of two with safeties coach David Merritt, who provides an overview of two of the younger safeties in his room, Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe.
Merritt also spoke about the challenge of picking up the pieces after former safety Will Hill forced the team’s hand with his failure to abide by the league rules.
Q. I’d like to hear from you about two young players you have. Let’s start with rookie Nat Berhe. I know he’s only been here a couple of weeks, but how has his development been coming along.
A: Nat is a typical rookie. He’s a young man who’s learning, who’s trying to understand the NFL game, the concepts and the things we’re asking him to do are probably a little foreign to him.
So right now, we’re going through this slow, growing pain process. But overall with this young man, he’s proving that he has the ability to play on this level and his ability to be able to pick up the concepts of the pass game is going to be key for him.
I’m looking forward to seeing Nat in the preseason games when we are in pads.
Q: How about Cooper Taylor, who like Berhe is a fifth-round draft pick, albeit from last year. His rookie season was kind of washed out due to injuries, but what have you seen from him since coming back this spring?
A: Cooper Taylor is another big kid. Cooper hopefully has the ability this year to break in and have the impact for us on special teams if he can stay healthy, which of course was the issue for him last year.
At the same time, Cooper – the sky’s the limit for this young man. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, but again Cooper is going to get his chance to shine on the field and in the preseason games, which is going to be really big.
Q: I know you probably don’t want to talk abut the past, but it’s probably safe to assume that what happened with Will Hill broke a lot of hearts around the organization. How have you been picking up the pieces in the safety room and as a defense?
A: You hit it on the head. Will Hill’s departure is something we’re all upset about. But at the same time, we have rules that need to be enforced and Mr. (Jerry) Reese did the right thing, as we all know in how he handled the situation.
By moving Will Hill out of the way and then looking at Stevie Brown and then understanding that Stevie is in a situation now where he is coming off of a major knee injury, his ability to come and be able to play at that level that he played at in 2012 is going to be big for us.
Our situation when we lost him in 2013 was he was on the shelf, so you’re sitting there saying, ‘Oh wow, that’s eight picks that are gone.’ Well, Antrel (Rolle) picked up some of the slack in that area, but Stevie, along with Antrel being on the field now, their chemistry is so good and I’m just looking forward to seeing him in pads and hopefully he’s able to push that knee.