Mike Stock Press Conference Transcript - Jan. 17

(Do you anticipate having Will Blackmon returning punts this week?)

He practiced today, so we'll see what happens with the after-effects of practice and how hard he practiced, see how he feels tomorrow.

(Will he be OK if he can get through tomorrow ... ?)

That's a decision the head coach makes. We'll find out Sunday.

(How much a difference will Will make if he's able to go?)

He's an important factor, but we've got other people as well. But certainly when he's playing in there, it gives us the benefit of another guy with some size and speed, and he certainly is a very quality player.

(When you summarize special teams how do you summarize it?)

It's a work in progress. Coming from the bottom of the barrel, if you will, with a lot of young players. These guys have worked very hard to have some kind of credibility, and I think we've done that. But each week is a new week, and the good side has to show up on Sunday for us to be effective and to help us win the game. I think it's a work in progress and I think every game is that way for everybody. Sometimes you know who's going to play right away, and sometimes you don't, and for those times when you don't know for sure, there's a little question mark in one or two spots, and you have to adjust. Players have to adjust as well, and those things happen on every team.

(What do you tell a young player who's getting ready to play for you on those units?)

You have to have a positive outlook on what you're doing, there's no question about it. This is a very difficult job and for what they do, because everything is in space, and the close confines of playing offensive line or defensive line, I'm not saying that's easy, but I'm saying it's a little bit different. So everything they do is magnified, especially when it's bad. If you have a mishap on handling a football, catching a punt or catching the kickoff, or snapping the ball or holding the ball, those things are magnified multiply compared to some other things that happen. If you miss a block on an offensive running play, that guy is not earmarked as he blew the play, and so on and so forth. When you've got 11 guys working that way, it's not quite as drastic. When you're talking about an offensive drive and the defensive scheme when you're trying to stop a team from the long drive, or a pass play when you're trying to rush the passer, they don't always get there to sack the guy. But when you're talking about special teams, it's so magnified because of the change of field position, from the kick to the coverage or the kick and the return. You have to be on your p's and q's, you have to be perfect at what you do, or you have to be close to it, and you really have to excel for a lengthy period of time, too. Because the synapse from the snap to the finish of the play, the separation there is sometimes 5 or 6 seconds, 7 seconds long. So there's a length of finishing the play that's important too.

(Do you have conversations with Mason Crosby about the conditions and what his range is during a game?)

Pre-game is very important in terms of where you are, what stadium you're kicking in and so on. Pre-game, and oftentimes we'll go out two hours before the game starts just to get the feel of it, where there's no time situation where he's got to be within a certain 15-20 minutes he's got to get his workout done. So we'll go out there and kick the field a little bit, so he gets to see which end is going to be where the wind is against him or the wind is with him or it's off his right shoulder, off his left shoulder, so he gets an idea of what he should have to do to play the ball. The bottom line is with his leg and for most people I think that kick in this league, if you're kicking a short field goal, anything from a 30-yard field goal in, you should not leave the ball outside the uprights. Now if you play the game like we did in Chicago a few weeks ago, the wind we had there, that's the one time you take the ball outside the uprights, because of the wind. Going away from the tunnel, from where we both come out on the field, both Chicago and the Packers, you had to take the ball probably 20, 25 yards outside the left upright, because the wind was blowing that hard, and it does affect the kick. So you just have to go out and find out how it's going to be.

{sportsad300}When you go on the field now for an hour-five before the game, when you've got the snapper and the holder, and your punters and your placekickers are going to work, then you know pretty much what you're gong to do, so when you're lining up the ball at a certain distance, you know how you want to control the kick, and that's what you do. Once that's done, I've got a little chart I'll keep in terms of what I think our line of scrimmage has got to be for our drive to go. In other words, if he can kick it 48 yards, then the line of scrimmage has to be at the 30-yard line for the field goal attempt. Anything outside the 30-yard line, we probably have to punt the ball, or go for it on fourth down. That's the mark, and everybody does it. Everybody before in pre-game decides where their kicker can best kick the field goal from, in a realistic point of view and from making the right decision, and where he's got the range to be able to make it from. So you take your chances that way. But there have been games too where you don't know. I was at Kansas City and we had (Pete) Stoyanovich was the kicker, and he was kind of toward the end of his career, not as lengthy has he had been when he was at Miami. And we were playing Denver, and I would have said probably the longest he could kick the field goal that day, because of the wind and it was very, very cold, was probably 45 yards. So it got down to the point where we had no more timeouts left, we got as far as we could go, and we had no time left on the clock, and wad to kick the field goal. He kicked a 54-yarder. So, so much for all that diagnosis before the game and all that stuff. It just depends on the adrenaline and all that business.

(Is it the same kind of thing for the punter too?)

Well, the punter is a little bit different. In terms of accuracy it's not that important, but it is important for him to get to catch the ball on the snap cleanly, and then get the ball away in the prescribed amount of time and be able to hang the ball for the coverage element to get down and surround the returner, or at least get in position where they can make the play once the catch is made. You'd like the fair-catch to be there, so he can't return it, or he'd like to be able to kick it out of bounds, so you nullify any return yardage whatsoever. But that doesn't always happen either. There's a wind factor there, in terms of when you're kicking the ball you have to know if it's going to be off your right shoulder or off your left shoulder. Where would you prefer to kick the ball? Usually (with) the wind to help take the ball to its proper position, if you will, and allow it to have its proper distance. You don't want to kick it directly into the wind where it's going to knock it down.

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