Re: punter Jeff Feagles, biological age 43
A: You just have to manage Jeff, obviously. We had a pretty good plan this year. We feel like we will stay with the same plan. We used the jugs machine quite a bit which helps.
Q: Adjusting to the new wedge….
A: It will be interesting to see how that all plays out. Until we get the players on the field, it looks different on a board or on a piece of paper, and when you get it on the field and spacing… We went through it a little bit at the rookie mini camp. So there will be some constant adjustments throughout the year with how you get your guys lined up and how you block the front line guys.
Q: Adjustment for you?
A: It's going to be an adjustment on both sides of the ball, both kickoff and kickoff return, because you have to cover kind of how they are attacking you. And so it will be interesting just to see how teams install their kickoff return and how they place their players. And then you will have to adjust to that as a kickoff team and how you adjust your coverage. So that will be the biggest rule change in the last couple of years for us.
Q: With R.W. McQuarters gone and Domenik Hixon and Ahmad Bradshaw both seemingly going to get a much bigger role in the offense, is your return game right now kind of a wide open competition or do you have returners in mind?
A: I think we are always trying to develop returners. So we have some guys that we have been working with to develop them. Some of the new guys we have been trying to see who has the talent to do that. The tough thing about college is that a lot of the guys have the skill to do it but sometimes their college coaches won't allow them to do it – they are such a big part of the offense. So all of the new guys that we bring in we rep them through punt returns, kickoff returns, any skill guys to see if they have that ability to help us.
Q: If a guy like Domenik Hixon has to start at receiver and Ahmad Bradshaw has to be the second running back, does that take them out of the return game? Do you have to find someone else or can they have a limited presence in that?
A: It is all based on what you have. We will make the best decision, especially with punt returns. That is ball possession. We stopped them, we have to get it back so you have to have a guy back there you trust that can catch it, number one. And then …..return will get after that. Do if Domenik is the guy, then he will have to be the guy and we will have to adjust to it. Hopefully if he is the guy, we can find someone else.
Q: Who are some of the other guys?
A: There are a lot of different guys - Mario Manningham is a guy that we have been working with this spring. He has done a really good job. Sinorice Moss, he continues to get better…… Stoney Woodson was a rookie – there are a couple of different rookies. Hakeem Nicks returned kickoffs a little bit for us in the rookie camp. So we will go through all of the different scenarios and see who…….
A: Yeah, he is a very good kickoff returner so he wouldn't do the punts but kickoff returns ……. And I think when you get a talented football team you always are going to have someone on your roster that can step up and fill those roles, which we have kind of done the last couple of years. Because each year we have gone into it and there hasn't been a clear-cut, "That is the punt returner, that is the kickoff returner," and you just keep working and keep developing and hope you can get something.
Q: During the spring and the summer camp and going into the season, do you have to keep an eye on Lawrence Tynes and make sure that he is back to where he was two years ago?
A: I think he was back a month after the injury. It was a difficult situation, more emotionally and mentally than anything else. I thought he handled it well. It is tough. He has done good this spring. He has really kicked the ball well. We are working on his kickoffs to improve the distance to help our coverage teams.
Q: will the rules changes on kickoff return open up the return game more?
A: It could. Because in the past you would have four big guys and you could have the returner run right behind it so that he is protected. Now you are going to have two guys and another guy two yards apart. So there are more seams, so that could be more – you might need a little more illusiveness back there. But again, it will be tried through preseason and the regular season to see just what kind of fit you want. The biggest part, it will affect the team, I think, by us using a four man wedge for part of the year last year and then '07, it distributed play time better. So now you could have O-linemen that would have another job to back them up….. offensive lineman said just being on the field, whether it could be on kickoff returns, so now you spread your play time on special teams and offense and defense more evenly. So now that affects it as you may have to have another defensive end or tight end to take that role, take more reps than they used to.
Q: Do you think the change in the wedge rule is good or bad?
A: It is for player safety, it is good.
Q: Any stats to change?
A: Good question. Our kickoff coverage goes down. …… At first you think the kickoff return average is probably going to go up.
Re: whether or not the rules changes will make a big difference in style and scheme
A: There are a lot of coaches that are trying to find a little piece of the rule and tweak it and take it right to the edge. There could be some bigger collisions because now you could have a couple of double teams. Back 5-10 years ago, especially in college when teams weren't running wedges but they were doubling the guy this way and bringing double teams to the backside across the field, so you could have some of those types of schemes coming back in. So it will be interesting to see how teams do it with their wedge. Do up still maintain your same philosophy and just adjust to that a little bit or do you go to a different philosophy, a different scheme as far as different points of attack.
Q: Preseason there could be…..
A: Talking about preseason, that is a good evaluation tool for us – defensive players – nine guys that will run down and cover. So a lot of times you are just mixing, you are just rolling guys in to see what they can do. So it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. You are going to protect those guys back there.