Q. Why the change on kick returner? (Dave Zangaro)
MICHAEL CLAY: Just added juice out of [RB] Boston [Scott], just some other stuff, nothing that [WR] Britain [Covey] has done. Britain has done a good job for us in terms of his protection of the ball, getting yards when he can. A lot of people put a lot of onus on the returner, why they haven’t gotten that yardage, but there’s 10 other guys that have to block, and we have to do a better job of creating a running lane, nothing that Britain hasn’t done. He’s protected the ball every time. He’s trying to get as much yardage as possible, just a little added juice out of Boston who’s very capable of doing that.
Q. The Chargers in their game used K Cameron Dicker, they used that little pop-up kickoff. Do you see that being a potential trend for teams doing that? How tough is it as a special teams coordinator to prepare for something like that? (Chris Franklin)
MICHAEL CLAY: That’s a situational thing you’ll see a lot over, I guess, the history of the NFL. When you get a plus 50 kick like that, you’re trying to pin an opponent deep when you have an advantageous situation like that.
Obviously, [K] Cam [Dicker] did a good job in that game with that, and you’ll see it across the board. You will try to steal some yardage right there in the plus 50 situation of kicking that type.
Q. The missed field goal, does S Andre Chachere affect that kick? (Bo Wulf)
MICHAEL CLAY: In our minds we’d like to think so, but it’s something we saw on film where there was an opportunity to rush the edge and push — get around the kicker’s eyesight. Maybe he’ll push it. Luckily for us Andre had a good rush right there where he may have got in the kicker’s eyesight. Maybe the kicker just missed it; you never know. But the pressure that the field goal block team has been creating the last couple weeks does help a little bit in terms of opponents missing those kicks right there.
Q. It’s two weeks back now, when P Arryn Siposs was pressured there and had to improvise, is that what he’s coached to do, or is that just instincts in that situation? (Zach Berman)
MICHAEL CLAY: Hopefully I never have to coach a guy through that, a guy who just runs free and you have to improvise to your right. But kudos to [P] Arryn [Siposs] being the athlete he is. It helps being a former professional Australian Football League player, and he did a lot of that at Auburn that he was able to think on his feet.
Obviously, we can’t ever have that happen in our protection scheme, but he made a heck of a play, let us re-punt it, got off another good punt. So again, just kudos to Arryn just being the athlete and keeping his cool to just get that ball off more than anything else.
Q. We’ve talked about how analytics has obviously come into the sport, but often we don’t talk about it for special teams. How has that sort of gotten into how things are run on the special teams side? How do you see its influence? (Tim McManus)
MICHAEL CLAY: I think it all comes down to what do you perceive to be the best situation for your football team with the analytics and everything. Just like in anything else in the offense and defense, it does pour into special teams, so those guys upstairs do a really good job in terms of implementing some strategies or, hey, this is the trend this year, what’s going to happen more than anything else. We’re always ears open, taking anything we can to better this team from a special teams standpoint.
Q. You guys had the 4th and 10 and decided to go for it instead of kicking like a 57-yard field goal, I believe. What went into that decision? Do you go up to Head Coach Nick Sirianni and say I think K Jake Elliott can make that? (Martin Frank)
MICHAEL CLAY: We always give a line on what we feel is comfortable and everything, but from us, from a special teams standpoint and those three specialists back there, when our number is called, they’re always ready to go and give us an opportunity to put points on the board. But it’s the communication between myself and Coach Sirianni, and Coach Sirianni does an absolute great job in terms of the communication.
We’re ready for any situation, whether we’re kicking a field goal or maybe a penalty happens, and we have to put the punt team out there. The communication has always been crystal clear with Coach Sirianni, so we’re just ready whenever our number is called.
Q. Was that 57-yarder in his range in that situation? (Dave Zangaro)
MICHAEL CLAY: You could probably ask [K] Jake [Elliott], anytime he’s out there he thinks it’s in his range right there, but the communication from Coach Sirianni to myself is an opportunity. So, 57, 47, 52, it doesn’t matter. We go out when Coach Sirianni wants us to go out there, and we’ll get the job done.
Q. It’s been kind of a weird year for K Jake Elliott, not many attempts. How does he stay fresh? How do you keep him ready even when he’s not getting all those attempts? (Dave Zangaro)
MICHAEL CLAY: It’s easy when you’ve got a professional like Jake Elliott out there. He’s always ready to go out there whenever his number is called. I think if you don’t have a lot of field goal attempts and you have a lot more extra point attempts, the offense is doing a heck of a job. We’d rather put one on the board than three, but when the opportunity presents itself, we’re going to be out there ready with the operation, with [LS] Rick [Lovato] and Arryn holding, Jake going out there, just like it’s anything else, and making sure we put three points on the board and get our kickoff team ready.
Q. Who decides when WR DeVonta Smith goes out there and what are some of the parameters for when he is deployed as a punt returner? (Tim McManus)
MICHAEL CLAY: It just goes back to the communication between myself and Coach Sirianni. I don’t want to go into too many details on when we’re going to use him in terms of that, but the communication has always been crystal clear with that. DeVonta has been an outstanding individual player, you already know that, but when he’s out there he’s totally focused on catching the ball and trying to make a big play.