Q. When you have a kicker like K Jake Elliott who’s been pretty much automatic inside 50 and then he misses from such short range, is the thought there just to kind of leave him alone? How do you work with a guy like that when something like that happens? (Nick Fierro)
COACH FIPP: I mean obviously missing the 29-yard field goal is not our standard and it’s unacceptable. I know Jake wants to be better in that and knows he needs to be better in that. I certainly feel that way. I know everybody does. I also want to kind of make it clear, I know I stood here a week ago and said you know what a talented player I think he is and how far along is and what he’s done and I stood up and talked about a lot of the good things and I hope it’s not misunderstood. I’m not saying that he’s performed at the level that we expect him to perform at. I don’t think he would say he’s performed as well as he thinks he should perform, either. That being said, I still really believe strongly in the player. I think he’s earned that right? He’s made a lot of big kicks here. He’s made a lot of kicks here. He’s kicked in high percentages in a lot of situations. But certainly, missing a 29-yard field goal was not acceptable. We know it happens. Every kicker has some fluctuations in their career and in any given season. Obviously, guys miss extra points, guys miss short field goals at times. Again, I’m not making excuses for him, but I do know that some of those things happen. Obviously if it continues to happen, it becomes a bigger problem.
But at the end of the day right now, Jake just really has to do what he’s done every day in practice. We chart a lot of kicks, we have a lot of data on him, I think I said that a week ago. So, I think he’ll get back to being who he’s been his whole time here. But I think the bottom line is, every day we go out there and he works really hard at it. Your question is more, what do you do, how do you respond? At the end of the day you continue to go to work, and you continue to refine your craft and you go through everything and try to find ways you can improve. If there’s any technique things you can improve upon, any operational things that you can improve upon to help the guy out. But I would say that’s really what it comes down to. Like I say, I would say, I still really have a lot of belief in the guy. He’s a really good player. He has not played as well as he needs to play, or as well as he wants to play. But I think when it’s all said and done, he’ll end up turning this thing around and having a good year for us.
Q. Is there anything technically that you’ve seen that is a problem right now or is different from what it was previously or anything in the operation? (Les Bowen)
COACH FIPP: No, I wouldn’t say you can pinpoint any one kick, to any one thing. I mean, again, he’s had some long kicks and I think the margin for error on those kicks is a lot smaller than it is on the shorter kicks. Not obviously the 29 yarder, he missed wide left and I think, you know, you’ve seen that too, he’s missed some to the right, he’s missed one to the left there, so they’ve gone both ways. It’s not exactly the same thing going on. At the end of the day for me, all those kicks are all just a little bit different and there’s just a lot of different variables on every kick. At the end of the day, the bottom line is we got to go out there and put the thing through the middle of the uprights and if we do that, then we don’t have to worry about all the other stuff that comes along with missing these things.
Q. The 21-day practice window was activated for S Rudy Ford yesterday. What does Rudy bring to your special teams’ units and has his loss impacted significantly the coverage units?(Chris Franklin)
COACH FIPP: Rudy’s obviously a really good player. I think people have seen that in the games he’s played for us. He’s made a lot of tackles, had a lot of production. His production per player is really high, so he’s made a difference for us, for sure. I mean, at the end of the day, in terms of the impact or the net gain or net loss, it’s hard to put an exact number on that. At the end of the day, all these plays come down to the sum of all 11 guys who are out there on the football field. I feel good about the guys who went in for him. I thought we got a lot of production out of [S] K’Von [Wallace], I said that a week ago when he went in there and played for him and then [TE Hakeem] Butler went in there and played. I think we’ve had a number of different guys who have done a good job. I think the group and the unit as a whole has done a good job, especially on the punt team there taking care of business. We had a little bit of a down game or not as consistent, I think I said against Baltimore, but I thought last week those guys did a good job responding. So, we’re excited to get Rudy back if he gets back for this game, we’ll see I’m not sure about that. But whenever he does come back obviously, we’ll be excited about getting him back out there.
Q. Coming into the Giants game with WR DeSean Jackson, was that the plan if there was a crucial situation to put him back there in certain circumstances and what was your reaction to the play where he got hurt? (Dave Zangaro)
COACH FIPP: We’ve had conversations in the past about him going back there. In that particular game, I mean I would give just really most of the credit to the individual. I got a lot of respect for DeSean. During that last drive he had come up to me and said, ‘Hey man, if they are punting this ball backed up or if they are punting this ball, put me back there, I want to go back there and make a play.’ Just a really unselfish football player trying to do anything he could to help the organization win a football game. He knew it was a spot where really the team needed him. He wanted a chance to step up and make a play for the team. So obviously he jumped back in there to take that kick and obviously it’s unfortunate what happened. We all know that injuries are part of the game but you never like seeing them, not to any player, but certainly not to great players like him. Especially guys who work so hard to get back into the thing. So obviously, that’s tough to watch or see. In terms of the hit and all that, I think some people are talking about that. Obviously, I’m going to stay away from that myself personally but yeah, disappointed in the injury there for sure.
Q. Going back to K Jake Elliott, in the recent weeks, you guys have tried out a couple kickers, the CFL kid and Austin Jones. How do you approach that with him? Is it just due diligence? You mentioned, you know, there’s things you have to work on as far as mechanics and confidence and things like that? (John McMullen)
COACH FIPP: My personal approach with any of those situations is always just tell the truth. I mean my mom always said to me, ‘Just tell the truth and you won’t be wrong.’ So at the end of the day I mean just clear communication is always helpful. I mean I think in those situations really most of that’s been, you know, just with the COVID concerns I think the rules and regulations on getting players in here have changed throughout the year. Our contingency plans are based off of those also. So as those rules have changed it’s harder to get somebody in here for a game if a guy went down midweek, it gets harder and harder to get a guy in here as these rules change. So, I think really more of that is contingency plans right now. So just having those conversations being honest and truthful and frank. I think a player always respects that. They just want to know the truth, whatever that is, even if it’s the hard truth but that’s better than telling somebody something that’s not right. So, my approach to communication with these players at all times is just be really forthcoming and honest with them. I know they can respect that and appreciate that.
So, in Jake’s case, I mean it’s easy because I don’t think any of these guys have been coming in here working out to try to take his job. At the end of the day, all these players know all the time — and I’ve said this to you guys before going into training camp when you asked about why didn’t we have another kicker on the roster or what not. I mean, at the end of the day, these guys know that they’re competing for their job every time they’re out there and they’re competing against, not only the other 31 players at their position in the National Football League, but everyone else on the street. I think they’re well aware of that. But yeah, I think this case is a little bit different than that.
Q. I was wondering, RB Jason Huntley’s role as a returner, do you see that increasing as the season goes along? What are your thoughts about him? And maybe even someone like in the DeSean’s role as a punt returner like every now and then? (Martin Frank)
COACH FIPP: In terms of Huntley’s role I mean, I think everyone’s role for us on special teams is really dependent on what their role is kind of on the offensive or defensive side of the football. And maybe sometimes that’s directly related to that individual and then other times it’s to other players. So, like obviously what’s [RB] Boston’s [Scott] role? Boston’s role is probably dependent on [RB] Miles Sanders role, and then so what’s Miles role? Obviously, as all those things are figured out throughout the course of weeks, that trickles downhill and then we figure out kind of who ends up playing those other roles for us. So, Huntley’s role probably depends on some guys who are up above him right now. I don’t have answers for you on that stuff, but as we get those, then we end up making our decisions on which 11 guys to put out there on special teams.
Q. I’m sure you payed attention to what Rams punter John Hekker did last night, really had some great punts. I know at one point he kind of turned the football sideways and he can get that ball flopping up there, bouncing pretty soft. P Cam Johnston is pretty much a wizard to with the ball too. Does he have that kind of ability and do you work with him on that?(Nick Fierro)
COACH FIPP: I would just say, I don’t I really don’t know what Hekker did last night but I know what [Cowboys K Greg] Zuerlein did last week and I know what [Cowboys P Chris] Jones did last week and [Cowboys LS L.P.] Ladouceur, [Cowboys RB Tony] Pollard all those guys for Dallas. That’s kind of really where our minds at. But I think I know what you’re talking about if you’re saying he put the ball sideways and ended up spiraling it. That’s a punt that’s kind of come into play over the last year and a half, I would say in this league. So, it’s kind of a little bit different punt and these college guys have brought that into the game, but I do know Hekker is a heck of a player. We got a lot of respect for him. What were you saying about Cam?
Q. He’s got such a background there with doing everything with the ball and I was just wondering if he’s got that ability to and if he does stuff like that? I haven’t really noticed that with him so far. (Nick Fierro)
COACH FIPP: He’s hit that ball before in practice. He’s never hit that in a game. I would say at the end of the day to answer your question, more specifically, he works on a bunch of different punts in practice. I think all these guys are always tinkering with something and trying to find a new way to do something. So he’s probably working on a bunch of different balls right now. But in terms of showing them in a game, he hasn’t put any of those points out there in a game, but I would say to your point, yeah he has a rugby background and he does a great job of manipulating the football. He can push it right and left. He can hit a number of different kicks. If you just ask somebody to sprint down the field and him hit the guy on the run, I mean he can put it right on the money like a quarterback. He’s a really talented kid and can do a lot with football.
Q. On the topic of the Cowboys returners, I’m sure you’ve watched Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb quite a bit these past few days. I imagine you’ve watched him quite a bit in the pre-draft process as well. What did you think of him then and what do you think of him now? (Zach Berman)
COACH FIPP: CeeDee Lamb, obviously an Oklahoma guy. I mean super talented. We really liked him in the draft, just in our evaluations. When I say we, I mean really more on special teams. I can’t speak for the organization, but I’m sure they felt highly of them also. Obviously, a super talented player, long, big. I mean, the guy is more elusive than you’d think especially for his size and body. Done a really nice job for them back there. So we got a lot of respect for him. We got our hands full with him. And then [Cowboys RB Tony] Pollard, the guy in kickoff returns for them out of Memphis is another really talented player. Had a really good college career. We watched a lot of film on him coming out. So, I would say we definitely know a lot about these guys. Haven’t played against them much here but we’ll learn more about them as we play against them here. We got a lot of respect for these guys from their college film, that’s for sure.