Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey -- October 17, 2019
Q: Whoís your kick returner?
A: Thatís a good question. Weíll see. We have a couple options back there. Cody (Latimer) has done it before for us in the past, and weíve been grooming a couple other guys. So, weíll see.
Q: Is one of them Darius Slayton?
A: Could be.
Q: We saw him out there catching some.
A: Well, (laughter) it could be.
Q: What does he do well?
A: Run fast. He can run fast.
Q: He hasnít done it thoughÖ
Q: In game action? He didnít do it in college, though, you said.
A: Yeah, weíve been training him. He did a lot in the spring, and our plan was during the preseason to get him like all of the reps. It just didnít work out, he got the hamstring and all of that stuff. Heís been catching punts and kicks everyday for the last three months. Just hopefully that work will pay off in the game. Weíve got Cody, we have some other guys, weíve got Pep (Jabrill Peppers) back there. So, weíve got options.
Q: How different though is it when you see a guy running down (in game action)?
A: Absolutely, itís totally different. I mean, itís like anything else. The more game experience you get, the better off you are. But going from practice to the game, itís totally different.
Q: How much different is the skillset for a punt returner and kick returner? You donít always see an overlap there.
A: The difference between a punt returner and kick returner, obviously, as a punt returner, you have to be able to track the ball. Itís a little bit more difficult tracking a punt than it is a kickoff. You have to be a little bit more rugged as a kickoff returner, because youíre going to take bigger shots. But the skillset, a lot of it is you have to be fearless as a punt returner and a kick returner. You have to be fearless because youíre running full speed through tight spaces. Thatís, for the most part, the biggest difference. Just tracking the ball.
Q: What do you think happened with the punt off the helmet in the Patriots game? Is that just one guy got pushed back too far?
A: Thatís exactly it. Itís one guy beating another guy. Brandon Bolden is a professional special teams player, as we call them in our realm. He does a great job. Heís a hell of a player, and heís been one for the last seven to eight years. Thatís just Brandon Bolden being Brandon Bolden. We just have to play with better leverage, better power, but it happened.
Q: Why have you guys settled on (Golden) Tate as the punt returner where it seemed like it was going to be Peppers?
A: Itís not so much settling, because both of those guys will be out there doing it. Itís just situational. When you get out there and youíre in those long drives, and you kind of have back-to-back drives, (then) there are some situations where itís been hot early in the year, some situations where you want to put a pair of fresh legs back there. So, it just depends. It really depends. Pep is super engaged, and heís ready to go in at any time. If we feel like we can throw him back there and he can make a play and he feels good about it, weíre going to put him back there.
Q: If Slayton is your kickoff returner, with his speed, does that change the rules at all for when the ball comes out of the end zone?
A: No. Again, we are very situational when it comes to that. It depends on the time of the game, and whatís going on, the flow of the game. When we look at returning kicks and covering kicks, itís all situational. We just have to see how the game is going, and then once we see how itís going, weíll just make our decision.
Q: With (Arizona Cardinals Punter Andy) Lee and (Arizona Cardinals Kicker Zane) Gonzalez, theyíve got two great players. Do they limit what you can do return wise?
A: Gonzalez does a great job of placing his kicks, he does a good job of disguising where heís going to hit the ball, so it makes it a little bit more difficult as a kickoff returning unit. Andy (Lee) is a big ball hitter, heís always been that way. I had him for two years in Carolina. Iím very familiar with him and who he is as a specialist. When you get a chance, you just have to pick your spots. When you get a chance to make a play, and then leave the ball in play, youíve got to make a play. But both of those guys have very good skillsets.