Special Teams Coordinator Brant Boyer, 6.10
Brian Costello, New York Post: Can you give us an overview on your kicker situation right now and the competition there?
I think it’s a good competition so far. Just like every phase, everybody here, including ourselves as coaches, we all have things we can improve. I think they’re both doing a nice job. There’s so much to be told from here to training camp and from training camp to the preseason. So, we’ll see what happens. They’re both doing a nice job so far and you take it as you see it from there.
Brian Costello, New York Post: How much do you factor in the groin injury when you look at Sam’s (Ficken) year last year?
How much does that have an effect on this year?
Brian Costello, New York Post: No, how much does it factor in when you’re evaluating what he did last year? Because obviously you guys kept him, when you got rid of Chase (McLaughlin) you kept him. It looked like at the end of the year, Chase was kicking at the end of the year, I was just wondering if you felt like he was really hampered by that groin injury at the end of last season?
I thought he (Ficken) was towards the end of the season. He had, I believe it was a 92% offseason and was kicking fairly well and did a nice job for us. Then he struggled physically like you were saying. So, hopefully he can rebound. I think that had something to do with it where we felt like he could come back and do a solid job and compete with somebody else for the job. Like I said, there’s so much that’s up in the air right now with every position, I couldn’t even begin to tell you. It could change, it could not change. They’re doing a really nice job so far and we’ll see what happens.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Brant, Elijah Moore is a guy that, from a skillset perspective, looks like he’d have a lot of things that you might like as a potential returner, be it kick or punt returner. But he hasn’t, or didn’t do that very much in college. So, what is the learning curve like for a player that maybe has a skillset that you like at the position but doesn’t have the experience?
I think, Connor, you’re exactly right. He’s got a heck of a skillset. I think his biggest improvement, he’s going to have to learn how to track the balls a little better. He has fantastic hands, he’s got everything that you’re looking for with quickness and the dynamic short-area burst and everything like that. His tracking just needs a little cleanup, but I think he’s going to be a very, very, very good player in this league. I think the kid has a bright future. He’s a self-starter, he’s a worker. There is two (rookies) in here at 6:30 in the morning on their own, working by themselves. I think it’s fantastic that they are doing that. Young kids that get how this business works.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: He shows up at 6:30 in the morning? Elijah does? To what, watch tape?
They come in to get extra work. Him and (Michael) Carter were in here getting extra work when nobody asked them to. That’s a really good sign for young kids that get it this early on how to be a professional and how to prepare and take care of their bodies and everything like that. Because it’s not always like that. A lot of people have to be prodded and these kids are self-starters and I expect very good things out of these two.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Just to be clear, you’re referring to Michael Carter the running back?
Yes sir. Carter one and Carter two.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Hey Brant, what was it that attracted you to Chris (Naggar) coming out of SMU? I know he did a lot of different things, I think he did punting as well at some point in his career. What are some of the things that attracted you to him?
I really liked his interview when we interviewed him and spent 20-30 minutes with him on Zoom meetings and stuff like that. It’s unfortunate that you can’t get these guys and you can’t see them kick in person. I really liked his rise on the ball that he has. He’s got upper-level leg strength. He’s got very good rotation on the ball that he kicks. I think he was very productive, I think he was in the mid-80’s or something percent wise. I think that it says a lot being from a guy in Texas that was behind two scholarship guys that comes back and battles and doesn’t quit and everything like that. He transferred to SMU and comes out and wins the job and does a heck of a job in the year that he got the chance. I think that says a lot for a person.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: What have your early impressions, early on-field impressions been of Justin Hardee. I got to imagine you were probably pretty happy when you got his (Inaudible) and signed him.
Yeah, I was ecstatic on that one, I have to be honest with you. We played, I think 13 different gunners last year. So, it was a real struggle. He’s been fantastic and what he’s done is he’s taken over a leadership role in the room and that’s what, I think the biggest thing we needed in our room, especially losing a bunch of our core guys with the new roster. He’s done a great job, I expect big things out of him. Now we just need somebody to merge at that other gunner so they can’t double him every time and we’ll see what happens, which I fully expect somebody will do.
Brian Costello, New York Post: What’s the next step for (Braden) Mann in year two?
I’m not going to get into big expectations, but I’m going to say I have some pretty good expectations for Braden. I think he’s improving every day. He’s a worker. He’s a hell of a kid, he’s one of my favorite kids here. He just does everything you ask him to do. Any little thing that you want to coach him on, we’re working a bunch with his directional kicks and his ability to open up his front first step. I think that’s helping him keep his hips there and I think it will help his directional kicking and his hang times and everything like that. In practice, he’s looked really good so far.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Brant, how did things change for you when you got a new boss? This is your third different head coach here. You have your system, but does Robert (Saleh) come in and say, “Tweak this, tweak that?” How does it affect you when you have the coaching change like that?
I think a lot is in terms of the roster, right? Because (Frankie) Luvu and all those guys are gone. (Matthias) Farley, my whole group, (Tarell) Basham and all those guys are gone now. So, schematically it doesn’t change much for me. I may tweak somethings and stuff like that, but I have smaller, faster, longer linebackers than possibly before. So, it’s going to be a little different. I think somethings are a big plus right now and somethings we’ve got a lot to work on because of that change. I think eventually, once we start getting going and we start accelerating the process and they get the more reps, and they can’t get enough reps, the young kids that are in here now and the guys that haven’t been here. And, they’re doing a really nice job so far. I think that they’re slowly coming along and that’s what they should, if they can just get a little better every day, which is what we’re trying to do. I think we’ll be fine when the time comes to put the pads on for real.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Brant, what was the process of you coming back? Did you have to sell yourself to Robert (Saleh) as far as what you’ve done here in the past? What was that like and what’s it like being on your third coaching staff now and surviving those changes?
I think I’m pretty damn lucky, I know that. To be honest with you, buddy, I got five days off after the season. I flew into Nevada to do some fishing and met some buddies down there. Then as soon as Saleh got hired I thought I’d better get back here so he can put a face to the name. I think it’s different with any coach. I really enjoyed the beginnings here and the new staff. It’s certainly a change with the personnel, but that’s part of being a coach and learning different personalities as far as the players and molding them into what you want. Trying to teach them to do the things that you’re asking them to do and the coaching staff has been awesome. Saleh is full of energy, he’s smart as heck and he’s really detailed. I’ve been really, really enjoying all these guys so far.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Brant, I don’t know if you remember but your first year, I think the last time we talked to you was when we were talking about your job status and you dropped the quote.
I think you talked about 15 times but…
(follow up) So, I guessed you weathered that storm?
We weathered the storm, buddy. We’re good, I’m good.