Q. I’m sure you saw the Cowboys on-side kick recovery. What did you make of that? Will you use that as a teaching point moving forward? (Bo Wulf)
DAVE FIPP: I have seen it, but I only saw it once. It was on a TV copy and it was just real brief.
We’ll definitely use it. I know what happened. We’ll definitely use the clip. We actually use every clip from around the league every week to teach off of. It’s just a great way to teach our guys. We’re learning from everyone’s situations, not just ours.
We’ll definitely look at it. I’m glad it was not us [smiling].
Q. Have you thought because of the new rules, and how difficult it’s become to get on-side kicks, have you started to try to think of innovative ways to make it a little bit easier? (John McMullen)
DAVE FIPP: I think everybody has been exploring for that. We’ve actually hit that same kick, and practiced that stuff in the past. Cincinnati actually hit that a year ago, I think two years ago or something, hit a similar kick to that. It did not go 10 and stayed not going 10.
But, yeah, I think everybody is searching for ways, to find a way to recover those kicks. It’s obviously gotten challenging. When you don’t have the running star, it makes it more difficult. Then having to have the five-by-five alignments. Not only that but you also have to have them pretty much spaced out. It’s gotten challenging. Everyone is trying to find a way to get it done.
Atlanta, truth be told, has done a great job of recovering them with their on-side team.
Q. Wanted to ask you about the Bengals return teams. Both of their returners have put up pretty good numbers in the first two games. What kind of challenge do they present? (Paul Domowitch)
DAVE FIPP: We got our hands full with these guys. We just finished meeting and we just actually talked about them. They got two really good returners, 40 Wilson [Bengals S Brandon Wilson], Erickson 12 [Bengals WR Alex Erickson]. These guys are really good. They’re good across the board though. They have really good core players, solid linebackers.
A couple young linebackers doing a good job for them, 55 [Bengals LB Logan Wilson] the rookie and 59 [Bengals LB Akeem Davis-Gaither] the rookie, are both playing well. We liked those guys coming out in the draft, too. 50 [Bengals LB Jordan Evans] is a solid linebacker for them. 82 [Bengals TE Cethan Carter], the tight end, really good player on special teams.
They got a lot of talent over there on that side of the ball. They got three really good specialists. I think those guys, the kicker has been in the league eight years, the snapper and punter 11 [years].
We got a big challenge ahead of us. I know our guys are excited about it. We definitely got our work cut out for us. We got a lot of work to do to get ready for those guys.
Q. We’re used to seeing P Cam Johnston booming punts. This year averaging 56, and his net just under 50. Has he done anything to strengthen his leg? Is it placement? Can he sustain those kind of numbers as the weather turns? (Reuben Frank)
DAVE FIPP: I guess he had two punts yesterday. I’d say one of them was really good, one of them was not as good. He’s done a great job.
I mean, I’ve always said Cam is going to be a really good football player. I think all those young guys just need a little bit of time to develop. That was kind of our plan going in with him. We knew he wasn’t where he needed to be right away.
Truth be told, we kind of redshirted him. We brought him into training camp his first year, then sent him back home with a laundry list of things he had to improve on and get ready for the next year. He came back, had done all those things.
I think I’ve also always told you guys he’s a really hard worker and takes a lot of pride in his craft. I would say every year he comes back significantly better than the year before.
He was also a guy in college, they weren’t asking him to hit traditional punts nearly as much. He hit that rugby or Aussie punt, the end-over-end punt most of the time when he was in college. He’s had a lot of development that he’s kind of had to do. I would say he’s just starting to get better and better. I think really he’s going to continue to do that.
I’m excited for him. I would say really all the credit should be given to him. I mean, he’s done a tremendous job of working really hard. He takes a lot of pride in it.
But, yeah, no, there’s no doubt, he should be able to sustain it. Every week’s a new week here. We got to reset and get ready for this one.
Q. On the turnover on Sunday, what did you see on film? Is that something LB T.J. Edwards is particularly good at, going after the ball? (Zach Berman)
DAVE FIPP: I don’t know that there was anything in particular we had seen on film. [Rams WR] Cooper Kupp for them hadn’t been back there a ton in the past. He was obviously back there on that play.
I can tell you this. I know those guys talked about taking the ball off somebody during the week of practice. Sure enough, they went out there and got it done.
We have a great group of core players right now, highly motivated, enjoy playing the plays. They work really hard at it during the week. It’s a really fun group to coach and be around.
We got a lot of growth to do over the next whatever, 14 weeks. We got a lot of room for improvement. It’s a fun group to be around. Obviously it was a really good play by T.J. taking the ball off him. It was also a really good play by [S] K’Von [Wallace] being where he’s supposed to be in our coverage, the way we teach it. The opportunity was there for him and he ended up recovering it.
Q. The rookies, how are they doing on special teams? S K’Von Wallace, LB Davion Taylor and LB Shaun Bradley playing quite a bit on special teams. What have you seen from those guys? (Martin Frank)
DAVE FIPP: Those guys are doing a really good job for us. It’s definitely a challenging year for them. They didn’t have the pre-season games, they didn’t have all the off-season work. We’re trying to work those guys in more and more.
K’Von ended up playing four core teams for us last week. He did it in the first week, played two. His role kind of increased last week. I think he’s done a really nice job.
Shaun has been playing four for us. He has done a nice job.
Davion was on two teams for us last week. We’re looking to continue to increase his role. But he’s really been solid for us. He’s made some really good plays. A great effort play on the penalty, on the kickoff return. He had a great effort block where he got out in front of the ball competing, fighting.
I’m really encouraged by these guys. I think they’re going to be good young players. Like all these young guys, they have a lot to learn playing special teams in the National Football League against guys who have done it for a long time, made a living doing it, is a difficult thing to do. I feel really good about where they’re at.
The most encouraging thing to me is how hard they work at it, the time, energy and effort they put into it. It makes me believe they can really become really good.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the penalty. It sort of looked like maybe RB Boston Scott was past the guy anyway when LB Alex Singleton held him. That would have been a huge thing, momentum changer in the game. What do you tell Alex after that? Is it just one of those things that happened? (Les Bowen)
DAVE FIPP: It definitely happened [laughter], so I would say yes, it’s one of those things that happen.
But, no, we really pride ourselves on being good in the penalty area. I think over really the eight years that I’ve been here, we’ve usually been solid in it. Unfortunately for us, the last two games we’ve had a penalty in each of them. Both of them have been in the return phase, one on punt return, one kick return. Both of them have cost us some yardage there. We had good plays on both of them.
It’s something we talk a lot about. We put a lot of time and energy into it. We watch all the penalties from around the league, from other teams and ourselves, how they’re called, why they’re called. We go over it with the players.
At the end of the day I think the officials do a great job. I would never argue on these things. It’s our job to play within the rules and the way they officiate the game. Definitely hooked a guy. I wish he didn’t because I’m with you, you don’t know whether or not he would have made the play. I think there’s a good chance he would have, but there’s also a chance he doesn’t.
But at the end of the day, we just got to all grow from it, learn from it, make sure we get those taken care of and eliminate those penalties from our play.
Q. As a motivator, do you change anything when the team is 0-2 or do you try to stay as much the same as you can? (Dave Zangaro)
DAVE FIPP: I think we try to have a system in place, it’s a system that we believe in, a way to practice, go through the week, prepare. We try not to deviate from that. We believe in how we train and prepare ourselves, and all that.
For us on special teams, we definitely try to stay the course. I mean, I try to stay the course. At the end of the day, I think you just put your focus and energy on trying to find a way to become a little bit better.
I think the thing I tell the players is whenever things start going astray, the most important thing you can do is really just look at yourself and your job. When I say that, I really am talking about myself and my job. Put the blinders on and focus on what you got to do to get this thing done. If everybody does that, you’re going to end up being fine.
For us, our focus is just on getting a little bit better. We try to focus on that every single week, to be honest with you. Whether we win or lose, doesn’t matter. Our goal is to improve throughout the course of the week. I think I said a week or two ago, the teams that do that the best end up being in the best shape down the stretch.
Q. The cancellation of the spring OTAs, the short summer, and the cancellation of pre-season, obviously hurt most players. With a punter, and maybe a place kicker, it’s meant less reps unless they’ve done it themselves during this whole period. Is Cam Johnston’s leg right now fresher, stronger than it might be otherwise? (Paul Domowitch)
DAVE FIPP: I don’t totally know the answer to that. Probably have to ask him for that.
But the one thing I would say is, all those three guys, they were together for a lot of this off-season. Even though they weren’t in the building and here, they got together at local high schools and worked their craft. I would say they probably ended up working just as much if not more this year than any other year. I really give those guys a lot of credit.
I know you’ve heard me say a million times they’re all really hard workers, but they’re all really hard workers and passionate about what they do. Any time you have guys like that, even with all the COVID, all that stuff, they got a chance — it doesn’t bother them because they did the same thing they’ve done, they just didn’t have the other guys around them.
In terms of the snap, hold, the kick, the snap, the catch, the punt, they were going through their operation routine just the same as they always would.