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Philadelphia Eagles News

Special Teams Coordinator Bobby April

On what happened on the out-of-bounds kick by K David Akers: "Well, what happened, we wanted to kick right, initially we had been kicking to the left and we wanted to change something up to maybe get them out of sync to some extent. They felt like trying to push it to the right would be a problem. So he knew what he was doing. So we said, 'Alright let's drive it as deep as we can,' you know, kick it, go down the middle. And I think he was probably really overcompensating because it was carrying as far that way. So he really tried to come around on hit, mishit it. You know, you don't have to miss it very much to mishit it. And you saw the result. So probably he was overcompensating trying to put more exertion on it and it caused him to not strike the ball very well and when you don't strike it very well it doesn't go where you want it to go."

On WR Chad Hall not having long returns and whether newly acquired CB Gerard Lawson is ready to step in and return: "Well, you know, I think we have to do a better job of blocking for him. Not that the returners in most long returns don't make something happen on their own because they usually do; you don't get that play executed flawlessly. There's always a lot of error on every play to some extent. I think he's doing fine. I think we just have to give him a better opportunity. Guys have missed blocks, guys have turned guys loose in the hole, and you'll see him get to use, if he had a little more space, he can manipulate the defender in space. When it's all congested in there it's a different kind of runner, you have to kind of bully your way through there. It's kind of like a third-and-two if you're going to run it. You'd like to get Chad out in space a little bit more to have him operate. So we just have to block a little bit better and I have to do a better job of getting those guys – we're not missing assignment, but we are missing blocks and we have to be able to do it all."

On whether Lawson will be active Sunday: "I think there's a good chance. (Head) Coach (Andy Reid) hasn't revealed exactly how he wants to do everything. We're going to practice today. But I'm going to let him make that call. Anything on personnel like that I'd rather him make the call when he's ready to make it."

On what's impressive about Lawson: "Well, what I saw of him was film from Cleveland. He was really an aggressive kid, I mean, really aggressive; reminded me of when (general manager) Howie (Roseman) brought in the film on Colt Anderson, you know, really played hard, tough, physical, packs a punch, all of those things that you really like. (He's) a hungry kid, a hungry kid. I mean, he's like those boxers in Rocky II when he went in there with the fancy clothes and saw those kids hitting the bag, he has that kind of look – that eye of the tiger; I guess it's Rocky III. So he plays like that. I really liked him. I mean, I liked him right from 'Jump Street' when I saw that kind of tenacity, that kind of fervor for the game, that kind of passion, he's into it. So to me that's impressive.

"And when you do that you're going to make plays. You're going to make plays, you know will beats skill, and when the skill's all fairly equal the guy with that kind of will, he's going to make plays (and) he's going to be around the ball because it's tough to get a whole team of guys. So the ones you do have that have that tremendous tenacity, they're going to make plays, I mean, they're going to make plays. And so I think he'll be like that. If he's not I'll really be disappointed because I'll have misjudged his football skill. You want a guy that not necessarily he's the biggest, he's the fastest, you want to be able to get a guy that can beat you in football. He beats you in football, he makes plays, (and) he's around the ball. I think that's what this kid will have. When he plays hopefully that shows. If not, poor evaluation."

On whether backups being thrust into a starting role for some starters on Sunday will affect special teams: "Well, it affects us a lot. That's part of the challenge of that area. You know, you constantly have to adapt, adjust, and improvise. You're always under that set of rules, that there's a lot of ebb-and-flow to the roster, a lot of fluidity to what's happening and guys moving around, and you have to really be able to adapt, adjust, and improvise. So it's really part of the job description. It's not that it's any tougher or you go, 'oh man this is…,' it's just part of the deal and you have to be good at making those adjustments and hopefully we will be."

On whether changing punt returners and kick returners constantly through the season makes it difficult for the whole special teams unit: "Well, I think – I'll use a quote that (former University of Southern California head coach) John McCay I heard say. I was at USC and he told us, he said, 'The personality of your football team is going to be determined by your tailback.' And so, you want a guy that's really a tough-minded, big play, you know you want the guy to personify your team that carries the ball. So there is some – because I believe John McCay, if John McCay said it it must be true, right – there is some validity to that. So you do want some continuity to the guy. But the bottom line is those guys have to, they have to go out and whoop guys and block for the guys. And a lot of returners can make some plays if the blocking is good.

"But then again, we talked before, on most big plays the returner has done something to get it on his own and we haven't done a good enough job of giving the guy enough room to be creative – the more room like we were talking about Chad Hall - the more room, the more space you give the ball carrier, the greater the creativity he'll have and we just haven't always given him enough space to be creative. And that's coaching, really. You know, they have to do the job. I mean, when the bell rings they have to come out and they know who their guy is and they have to whoop him. But we have to get them prepared to whoop the guy. Most of our stuff is done during the week, (but) on Sundays between the lines, guys have to get it done."

On how it feels for him to be going to the playoffs despite losing last week: "Well, it was a disappointing game primarily because of the energy level – I'm just talking about special teams, (offensive coordinator) Marty (Mornhinweg) and (defensive coordinator) Sean (McDermott) will talk on their error. But the energy level was not as good as it should have been. And that's really a big part of what we try to create on special teams. You know, when practice starts we've already practiced for forty minutes. We want the team to come out feeling an energy, feeling it. We want energy. I mean, that's probably a big part of why I was even hired here because that's what I try to always create.

"And because we didn't have that, that was really disappointing; of course it's disappointing to lose anyway because we're not entrepreneurs, we're employees of (owner) Mr. (Jeffrey) Lurie, so you win. It's not how your area does or we had 300 yards passing, 'boy I really feel good about that,' you know we lost 40-0. We're employees, so to win the game is the most important – I carried on about the special teams area, but I want to make it clear that winning a game and losing a game, if you can see it through the eyes of a head coach is the most important. And making the playoffs is exciting. It's hard to look anywhere past Dallas at this point, so I probably will feel a little bit more next week in this meeting."

On whether he can explain not having energy with so much at stake: "Well, that's the disappointing part. From my perspective, I can only blame myself that I didn't do a good enough job sending the message of what we needed to do, of being energized myself at practice, you know, showing that, displaying it. So I can only blame myself that I didn't do a good enough job to get these guys to play with energy."

On whether preparing the players to play Sunday affected their preparation when the game changed to Tuesday: "You know, I don't think so, and if there was they were under the same (conditions). It wasn't like Minnesota was preparing for Tuesday, they were preparing the same way. There is a point in there, and we used the analogy of the Micky Ward and Arturo Gatti first fight. You know, the bell rang and they thought the fight was over. They thought the fight was over and Micky Ward was declared the winner, and then the referee came in there (and said), 'No, no, no it ain't over. It ain't over. Get back in your corners, let's fight.' And I said Micky Ward had – he was mad then he had to go back to the corner and regroup. So they were aware of that, that that's a psychology that you have to overcome. But Minnesota was the same deal, same deal. They beat us and I don't want to diminish that they didn't do anything to get that win, they did. They played good and played better than us. But I don't think there was any advantage, disadvantage of playing Tuesday that we had over them at all."

On whether the energy level was lower over the course of the week than it has been over the season: "No, I don't think so. Again, I'm only talking about special teams. The head coach addresses the entire team and Marty and Sean address their area. The area of special teams I thought our guys would come out playing with better energy and they know they need to play with better energy; they know every game they have to play with great energy and that's the only way you can really get it done. And even then, when you play with it, you don't necessarily get it done."

On whether the Vikings being an inferior opponent had anything to do with the lack of energy level: "Yeah, I'm not sure Minnesota's inferior to anybody. I mean, I know their record's not as good as anything, you know, there's a great psychology that fighter pilots have – when they go up there are no easy kills. And if that's what you're referring to, that we had that mentality, then we had the wrong mentality. But I don't necessarily think Minnesota was inferior."

On whether he thinks his players had that mentality: "No. No, I just think for whatever reason we didn't get it done. And I have to be collectively talking about the entire team, but special teams I didn't sense that or feel that at any point. But I felt during the game it existed and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that the players understand that's not how you, I mean, at this point it can only be a great learning experience."

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