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Special Teams Coordinator Bobby April

Posted Nov 29, 2012

On CB Brandon Boykin and WR Damaris Johnson having their longest returns on Monday night: "I don’t know. We’re doing a lot of similar things, maybe getting better at them. I think their return maybe elevated, their ability to return may be elevated a little bit, but it had to be in very small increments obviously. You can’t improve your skill that much over two weeks. Collectively, we keep getting a little bit better, a little bit better and hopefully we’ll continue to improve, continue to get better and make more plays for the offense that way."

On WR Riley Cooper’s role on kickoff returns: "Well, he’s the off-returner, so he’s responsible for sort of controlling how we set the wedge, how we set the formation, when we take off. And then he has a blocking responsibility. A lot of times, it’s kind of vague because it depends where the ball’s kicked, who’s their most dangerous guy, that type of thing. But he does a really good job at it; a really good job at it. We’ve even talked about using him as the returner because his ability to see things and know how to work his way up through the voids in there is really good. Plus, he’s big and he’s fast. He’d probably be pretty good. We haven’t used him in that (role) and he’s never done it, so now’s not a great time to try it or experiment."

On what is working mechanically for K Alex Henery: "He has really good mechanics. He came in batteries-included on that one. He was already assembled and ready to roll. He’s got that. That’s the one thing, when you watched him in college, boy, he was really consistent. He was really consistent. His technique showed up over and over, looking the same, being methodical in everything. His get-off time is excellent. It really helps on teams.

"It’s a tough thing to protect; it should be protected every time, but it’s still a tough thing to protect and if you have a guy that gets the ball off slow, the speed of the guys that get there, they’re going to get to it. That’s a big part of his deal as well. He elevates the ball quick, he gets it off quick and he keeps them from preventing it. Then, his own ability and skill (helps). Yeah, he’s on a pretty good run. Those plays are really important. They’re really important and we hope we put him in position to win the game. I’d like to see him get a couple of game winners in there."

On whether there is a difference in Johnson’s approach now than at the beginning of the year: "I don’t think so. I think he has and has had the ability to make a guy miss. What happens (is) that one-on-one, a lot of guys can win that one-on-one. If the punter or our punt return team doesn’t cooperate with that one-on-one, that one-on-one quickly becomes a one-on-ten because it does take time to make a guy miss. When you have to make a guy miss, you’re not pushing up the field and going and making diagonal cuts at top speed.

"There’s something about you having to stop your feet or move laterally, at least regulate your speed and then have to reset, reaccelerate. So all those time factors, the net gets drawn on you. I think he’s had opportunities. He can run with the ball. I think the opportunities have been better. This guy didn’t punt as good as maybe some of the other people we’ve played. He had more time to avoid the first one and the net still had some loose space in it where he was able to get out of it. Had there been less time, that one-on-one would have more rapidly turned into a ten-on-one."

On whether a commitment to playing younger players may change the personnel on special teams: "I hope not. I don’t think so. We have our unit set. That would mean somebody’s either not playing very good or somebody gets hurt."

On whether there is a chance a player that was a starter before may play a larger role on special teams late in the season: "If somebody that was a starter gets demoted and I pick him up, yeah, that could happen. That means I’d probably have a pretty skilled guy and then whatever percentage but it’s very high, maybe 80 percent, will determine how good he is and that’s the mental part. He already qualified to get on the team. He’s got skill. It’s just how much he’s going to be aggressive about it. That could happen. Any particular starter you think of, I would gladly use him because it’s probably a little bit of an uplift in skill. But they’d have to be committed. They’ve got to be committed so we’ll see how that goes. At this point, our special teams are relatively the same. Relatively the same; there’s not much difference."

On whether he feels Boykin has improved over the course of the season: "I think he is improving. I think he’s more aggressive, he’s more willing to go flying up in the briar patch. He’s less concerned about (thinking), ‘Well, let me make sure before I do anything. Let me figure this thing out.’ You don’t have time to figure it out. He’s playing faster. He is fast, but he’s playing faster. He wasn’t playing as fast before and you have to. You have to. This is like a fist-fight. It’s less straight war. You’re not sitting around trying to figure things out. You’ve got to throw leather in and throw it fast. You’ve got to get it going, and he has."

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