Mike Stock Press Conference Transcript - Jan. 9

(How are you going forward with preparations for the return game with Blackmon up in the air?)

If he's available he's playing. We'll know when we know. We'll just go like we've been doing all year.

(Does it help with having depth in the return game?)

It has helped immensely, absolutely. That's why there's preseason. That's why the guys that you have available, you've got to list and you work those guys from morning, noon and night when they don't have defense or offensive responsibilities, and you have them do the various things we do with returners to be able to take care of business when it's their turn. And so far we've been very blessed that these guys have been able to do that.

(Do you do anything different in terms of the mental approach with having a young kicker and punter in their first playoff game?)

Oh, let me see. Pretty much the same. These guys have been doing this. Jon's (Ryan) been in the Canadian League for a couple years, so this isn't his first rodeo in that regard in terms of playing a very important football game. Every game's important. That's the way we approach it. Yes, this is a playoff game, but as far as we're concerned -- home game, good opponent, everybody now is great, so we've got to be on our toes and play the best we can. We know that. We try to do that every week anyway, so in terms of trying to go in the same preparation-wise, it's the same.

(Have you been out on the field the last couple days?)

They're painting it today. We couldn't go on it today. Yesterday it rained pretty hard so we decided to go on Nitschke to get the wind and get the conditions there. They're very good. We wanted to kick some wet balls and snap some wet balls and hold some wet balls, and we did all that. It was good. The surface was uncovered yesterday, but rather than go on the field in these conditions we thought it was best to get our good kicks in in terms of those reps, so we did that. We plan on going on it tomorrow, but I guess there's snow tonight, so it'll be covered for a while and if we're fortunate and the snow lets up we'll have a chance to go on it, uncover a portion of it for tomorrow. We can kick some more on the field like we normally do on Friday.

(Do you expect the rain to have any effect on the field for the game?)

To this point and time it's been fantastic, so I don't envision anything is going to be any different than it has been. I guess we'll wait and see.

(How do you assess Jon Ryan's season as a whole?)

I think he's made strides of improving from last year. We're still in the midst of competition here and this is a very big ballgame for us of course, and this is a big ballgame for him like they all are. But I think this kid's resilient. I think he's a tough-minded guy. I think he responds well to adversity. I think he's ready to go again, as he was last week against Detroit, and I think he'll be fine. I think he's had a good season but I think there's still things we need to do in that area of punting the football and all those things that involves the punting game itself. There's still things we can improve upon and he knows that, but he's a good, young prospect and he's a tough-minded guy, so he's very coachable and works very hard at his craft.

(When you adjusted his technique this offseason did you get what you were looking for in terms of improving hang-time by doing that?)

I think we accomplished quite a bit, but like I said before, I think there are still things that we need to accomplish, and those are specific things that we have talked about, he and I, and he understands. We'll go through the process at the end of the season of discussing those specific things because you don't want to do too many things when you're going to try to adjust people. You don't want to try to do too many things in that realm to confuse them. So there was one thing we were going to work on this year, and that was the footwork, and by doing that I think it's helped us - it's helped him. The other thing that was very important is by minimizing those steps - you shorten the steps - now you're farther away from the line of scrimmage, for the block point. They've got to come a step closer now, whereas a year ago he was close to the line of scrimmage because of the three strides that it really became jeopardizing in regard to the protection and the rush being so close together. So I think we've accomplished part of it, but there are things yet we need to master. But that's the next stage for next year.

(Do you think he has the potential to become one of the best in the business?)

First of all, I think he has a big heart. I think he has a want-to attitude and with his attitude he can accomplish anything he wants. When he first came here he never had held before, because up there he was a placekicker and a punter. So he had never been a holder before, and really if you talked about who was going to be the holder for the team that year, his first year, I wouldn't have put him in the top five. But because of what we asked him to do and how hard he worked at doing the job, he's become very good at it.

(How tough was it to shove Tramon aside when Blackmon returned to the lineup as the returner?)

See I don't share all those particular things that you guys talk about, 'Do I shove this guy aside?' That's not the case. You've got 53 people on the roster and everybody has to help win. There's nobody shoving anybody aside. Everybody's going to have a chance to help us win. That's what it's all about. It's not about anything else. It's not about egos, it's not about my ego. It's about them and how they play the game. Play the game to win. It's a team sport, not an individual thing, and they all know who's the best or who's the better of the two or who's the best of the three or whatever. They know who should be the number one guy. We've talked about 21 (Charles Woodson). 21's a guy you can depend upon, clearly. Now he hurt his toe - next guy, next guy. So the best thing about this football team is they understand what it's all about. They put the egos aside and they go about their business and do their job. As far as pushing somebody aside, that's not the attitude whatsoever - never has been, never will be - not as far as Coach McCarthy's concerned or as far as I'm concerned, never.

(Have you been a little harder on your guys in practice this week with what's at stake?)

Were you at any of the practices in preseason? I don't think I'm any different than I have been. I'm going to be very enthusiastic, passionate, vociferous. They're going to hear me, I'm going to be there. If something breaks down or something happens good I'm going to be just as loud. When it happens good, I'm there. But here's the thing. I haven't played the game for a million years, so the big thing is how I play the game is through them. I play the game through them and they know that. So, however I teach it and coach it, it's with a great passion and enthusiasm for them. I want them to do the best job they can for us and for them, but I play through them.

{sportsad300}(As coaches do you take it up a notch for the playoffs?)

There's no question about what happens when you toe the next level once the 16 (regular-season) games are over and you take the top 12 teams, or whatever it is. The competition is much keener and it's on a higher plane and plateau because those are the top teams in the league. Everybody knows it and you play for 60 minutes. It's going to be a battle for 60 minutes. You cannot take a play off. Every play's important. We talked about the kicker when he was competing for the job in preseason and I said 'Every kick's important.' Every play's important, every play, and the seam of the special teams runs through the offense and defense, and it goes hand-in-glove with field position for both sides. And it's got to be perfect. It's got to be outstanding.

(Did Tramon do a nice job when he had his chances to return?)

That one particular play when he scores the touchdown (against Carolina), you talk about that in practice. You may talk about that three or four times in a season, but that's all. He has to know where you've got to set the wall, where are we going to set the wall. He has to know that and we weren't anticipating him punting the ball down the middle of the field either. We were anticipating coming to the angle, to the 10-yard line, but he saw the guy back there. Now there's two things that can happen. They can turn around and say 'OK, timeout,' waste a timeout because they saw us logistically we're in position to field the ball and they don't want to take a chance on the return. Or they can say 'OK, fine he's over there but I'm going to punt it down the middle.' Well, he punted it down the middle, it was a good ploy, it was a nice kick, but it bounced nicely up into (Tramon's) hands, and when he made the break there were two guys to make the block. That play is not easily decided upon and run. It happens like that and you've got to make a split decision and the guys blocking have to make the right decision also. They lined up in the proper spots, he made the right decision, he made the right break to the correct sideline. Those things are hard to do and he did instinctively, and the guys react and blocked instinctively. As young as he is and as inexperienced in that capacity as he is, he executed it. So there's a word that's important here. It's called trust, and when guys can do those things as they do in practice and then they go out and perform in a game at that kind of a level, you can trust him. And he knows that. When he knows you have trust in him, he will play more effectively.

(How much faith do you have in Mason Crosby if it comes down to a game-winning kick?)

Listen, he's the guy. How much would you have put in against (him) the Philadelphia game, which nobody gave us a prayer to win. It came down to his kick. Listen, like I said before, he's a good kicker and whether it's cold or warm or raining or snowing it doesn't matter. He's going to perform. He's going to perform the best way he can. He's going to make a lot and he's going to miss some. But I would lay my hat on him. He's the guy.

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