Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
August 17, 2021
Q: What do you know about (Defensive Back) Keion Crossen?
A: I know he can run very fast and that's a good thing. Now, Keion's been in this league for four years now and a veteran player who’s been an outstanding gunner and penetrator, and that's what we're looking for. That's why we made the move to get it. So, he's going to come in, he has a role and I look forward to coaching him and having him in the building. Seems like a really pleasant guy. A lot of good things have been said about him.
Q: There have been times in the past year talking about special teams guys, just coach who’s there. Is it a statement of how you guys feel about your units when you go and make a deal for Keion on special teams?
A: It just shows that it's important. It's no different than offense and defense. When you have a need, you need to fill a need, you're going to make the moves as an organization to get those needs filled and those needs met. He’s going to definitely fill a need for us.
Q: I know you have a proven one in (Kicker) Graham (Gano), but just watching (K Ryan) Santoso on the field on Wednesday night when the fans were there and then Saturday, he’s got a big leg. How does he fit in?
A: He has a job to do, he's a kicker. He's going in here, he’s competing for a job and not only is he competing for a job here, he's competing for a job all over the league. Ryan has great upside, he's a good man, he works his tail off. That's what this league is all about, it's about competition and hopefully Ryan can do enough where he can get a job, whether it's here or somewhere else.
Q: Do you consider him as a kickoff guy?
A: He can do whatever. Ryan can punt, kick -- I'm serious, he's very talented and he's punted in NFL games before, he's kicked off, he can kick field goals, so Ryan is a very talented young man.
Q: Do you plan to give to him all the work in the games or will Graham see some?
A: He'll get the primary workload. We're going to ramp Graham up slowly. This is Graham's 12th year and he’s done it at a high level for a long time, so we're going to let him work himself to where he feels comfortable and then we'll go from there.
Q: We don't do normally see outside linebackers, running out at gunner and running down the field, but that's kind of what you had (Linebacker) Cam Brown do it. What went into the thought process of putting him there and what have you seen?
A: Cam's just a unique individual. I told you guys last year that we expect a lot out of him because he has a lot to give. He's very talented, he's a rare bird. He's just different. He's a six-foot-five, 230-pound guy that can run like a deer. You don't see a lot of guys like that, so when you have that type of skill set he poses a problem to the opponent. A big, strong, long, smart football player who has ability and he's got young legs, so he can run all day. It's fun to coach him and we're excited to watch him play.
Q: Is he the biggest gunner you’ve ever been around?
A: I've been around some big ones. Brandon Marshall when he was a rookie played for me in Denver. He was about the same size as Cam. But, his length does make a big difference as long as there’s strength.
Q: In what way?
A: Just being able to use it at the line of scrimmage. Most of the time, if you’ve got a figh and they're trying to grab and hold you, if I can stick my long arm out there and stop you from grabbing me and get on an edge, that gives me an advantage because now I can just open up and run and I can power through you. So, now I'm going to put you in a trail position and now I can just punch the gas and go. So, using that length, the strength and being able to bend and come out of his hips, that's a whole different skillset combined with the length. I always tell people, ‘Long levers are strong lever,’ so if I can bend and come out of my hips and I can use my length, that guy that's on the other side of the line of scrimmage that’s normally 5’11”, 5’10”, 191-195, maybe 200 pounds, and I'm 230 and I got more length and I can bend, I'm going to win that matchup most of the time.
Q: How do you see the long snapper competition?
A: Both of those guys are working their tails off and we'll see where it ends up, but they're back there competing and they're doing their job. Both of them are doing very well.
Q: (Punter) Riley Dixon, how many different kinds of punts does he have? We see him working on all kinds of things. And how difficult is it to maintain consistency when you’re hitting that many different kinds of kicks?
A: Riley has a few kicks in his bag, he's working on a few different things. When we work with him, we're really focused on one punt at a time, so we're not all over the map. We have a plan with him when he's out there working, but he's doing a nice job of developing the tool bag. So, we're just going to keep working and see where we end up.
Q: Last time we talked to you, you said (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney) had to prove himself just like anyone else. Can he prove himself if he's not on the field?
A: It's kind of hard to do and that's just the reality of it. He'll get out there eventually and Kadarius is a smart kid, works his tail off and he's just got to get through the situation right now. Once he gets through his situation, he'll be fine. He's just got to keep working. Whenever he shows up and he's ready to go, he'll be ready to go.
Q: It’s no secret that a wide receiver down the depth chart has to thrive in special teams to make the roster. Do you have guys begging for reps and trying to get out there more?
A: They get it and they understand it, and it comes from the top. Joe talks about it in the meetings all the time, guys that are able to cover kicks can add value to the football team. And that's what we're looking for, we're looking for guys that can add value. We’re going to build our roster from the top down and the bottom up. So, if we get in a situation where we got to go to another guy, pull a guy off the practice squad, he's not going to step right in and beat out (WR) Kenny (Golladay) and he ain't taking his spot. We're going to pull him up, so he can run down on kickoff and provide depth.
Q: How do you manage that with preseason game reps where you might have three punts and then you want to see the guys who are going to play on Sundays?
A: It's tough, it’s tough. Going to Cleveland this week will be big, those practice sessions that we'll have against those guys will be big, so guys will be able to get out there, go against other competition and you'll be able to evaluate them then. When we go to New England, same thing with the practices, but you're right, you're limited in your preseason exposures to them because of the reps. The reps might dictate there's only two or three kickoffs and it might dictate that it's only two or three punts. So, again, a lot of stuff. The most important thing we do is practice, so a lot of the things we do are evaluated in practice.
Q: Along those lines, the other night Joe decides to punt in your own territory and gives you guys an opportunity to down it inside the 10. I don't know if it was intentional, but from your perspective I would imagine you're thrilled to get that unit out in that situation.
A: Absolutely, absolutely. Anytime you can down a ball inside the 10, the percentages of you stopping the other team from scoring go up and that's what we do, we play the percentages. And to be able to evaluate our gunners and be able to evaluate our punt team, to be able to evaluate those guys and see what they can do and how they perform. (WR) Matt Cole went down there and made a good play, and it was big for him.
Q: Speaking of the evaluation, can you talk about what you saw from Matt Cole?
A: Matt did a great job, he did. He came in right off the street, jumped right in and did a hell of a job. He went down there and down the ball inside the five and he had some nice releases as a gunner. He showed his feet, he showed what he was, so that was definitely a plus for him.
Q: Are you in communication with Nate Ebner throughout camp?
A: Nate's a good man and I haven't talked to him in a while, but he texts back and forth with Joe. Nate's in a good spot right now. He’s just rehabbing and hopefully we can get him back.
Q: Who are you leaning on to be your veterans on special teams? In the past, it was (Defensive Back) Jabrill (Peppers) and (Defensive Back) Julian (Love).
A: We’ve got some good young guys that have been around. Jabrill was our special teams captain last year, one of them and I'll lean on him definitely heavily. He does a hell of a job with our guys and getting them ready and just being a great example on how to prepare and how to work every day. So, we got a really good group of men that understand what it takes to play at a high level and we just got to build and help these young guys to bring them along.
Q: You have two fullbacks running with a lot of your special teams units. What do you from those guys and how that competition is going?
A: Those guys are football players regardless of position and they’re two really good football players. They provide good team value and depth, but they're football players first. That's how we see them and they're doing a heck of a job, both of them.