James: 'He has helped me a ton'


Rookie tight end Jesse James had to watch from the sidelines for the first eight weeks of the season, patiently biding his time while learning from veterans Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth.

While waiting is never easy, it was probably the best thing for James.

"That is always vital," said tight ends coach James Daniel. "Young guys, if you have the opportunity to let them watch veteran guys, older guys do some things, get some work habits, learn some traits, learn a lot about football from them, it's a big help. I think that has been a big help for him."

James agreed. He picked up plenty about the being a spectator the first half of the season, and that's been a huge help the last two weeks when he has seen playing time, and scored his first NFL touchdown against the Raiders.

"It helped in a big way not playing early," said James. "You go out there week one and don't know what to expect. I didn't go through that. I knew what to expect, especially after eight weeks. I was able to learn what the sidelines are like, how Matt and Heath communicate throughout the game. I felt great. I felt like I was there before and it was nothing new."

James' playing time came at the expense of Spaeth having a knee injury, but his progress since the time he arrived out of Penn State on draft day has warranted the coaches having plenty of trust in him.

"I think he has grown leaps and bounds," said Daniel. "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.

"He has put in the time and a lot of work. He has done a good job as a blocker. 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. The challenges that we have confronted him with, he has met them and he is trying to be good in all areas as a player."

While Daniel said it's the "ideal situation" for James to have a player like Miller on the team to learn from, James said it's been Daniel who has been a major contributor to his growth.

"He has helped me a ton," said James. "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. He always has you prepared for the moment, the game. When I first had my opportunity he made sure I was ready to go and could take advantage of it."

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