Q. Will WR Britain Covey stay as your holder? (Al Thompson)
MICHAEL CLAY: No. It’s always nice to have [WR] Britain [Covey] have the ability to be a holder in those emergency situations. I thought he did an outstanding job coming in, in those tough conditions. A lot of kudos to [LS] Rick [Lovato] and [K] Jake [Elliott] not really missing a beat, putting the ball down, and we were able to get all the points we could get out of it.
Q. What did you like about P Brett Kern that you guys thought you could bring him in to sign him? (Chris Franklin)
MICHAEL CLAY: [P] Brett [Kern] has been a veteran punter for a long time, a really good punter for a long time in Tennessee. Very fortunate he was not on an active roster right now, so having Brett being a veteran guy who’s also a very good holder out there, has been in some playoff games in terms of his career. You guys have seen his accolades; he’s a very good punter, so very fortunate that he was just out there, and kudos to [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and his staff being able to be quick on it and get him on board.
Q. We hear so much about the operation between the three specialists. How much work goes into that this week with a new face? (Dave Zangaro)
MICHAEL CLAY: I think it’s just more them getting used to each other right there in terms of the cadence and how Jake likes the tilt on the ball. I’m not too worried about that having a veteran crew in terms of Brett, Jake and Rick being able to get in cahoots. We’ve gone through it already with [former Eagles K Cameron] Cam [Dicker] earlier in the season when Jake went down for that one game, so we’ll just ready for it come Chicago.
Q. RB Boston Scott had a couple big returns, kick returns, obviously. What went into the success you guys had in that phase? (Reuben Frank)
MICHAEL CLAY: It was very good to see these guys come in. They’ve been locked in over the last few weeks, and we threw a little wrinkle in, not necessarily changing a lot, just a little wrinkle in terms of our blocking track right there. [WR Zach Pascal] ZP did a heck of a job cutting off the backside, and [RB] Boston [Scott] hit it; he saw two-split-two and he was able to get to the outside right there, so it was really encouraging to see, helping the offense out with that shorter field. I think [WR] A.J. [Brown] scored the next play or something like that. So, it’s always nice for that.
Then coming out the third one, it was just good individual blocks right there. [CB] Josiah [Scott] had a really good block on 47, [Giants LB] Cam Brown, that kind of sprung Boston to the right side, and Boston hit it, got going right there, so encouraging stuff as we get going, and still building off our return game.
Q. In just two games LB Christian Elliss has got four tackles, already tied for third on the team. What is it about him as a special teams player, and what took so long getting him up? (Jeff McLane)
MICHAEL CLAY: [LB] Christian [Elliss] has done an unbelievable job when his name is called up. He’s taken the opportunities to make big plays right there. He’s made, like you said, four tackles in two weeks. He’s done an outstanding job. He studies it, he works at it. He’s been able to take coaching. He plays off some guys right there to use his natural linebacker ability right there to make some plays.
Very encouraging to see Christian come out and perform so well right there, and it’s just more kudos to him being ready whenever his time comes, and able to make the most of the opportunity.
Q. WR Zach Pascal said the long RB Boston Scott return was a new one that you put in this week. Is that based on something you saw from the Giants, or is it playing off of stuff that you’ve done? (Bo Wulf)
MICHAEL CLAY: A little bit of both. Every other team has a different personnel, a different type of style of covering kicks right there, so it was just a little wrinkle. Nothing that we haven’t done in terms of our foundation of returns. Was something that maybe they haven’t seen before and we could catch them off guard right there, and I thought [TE] Grant [Calcaterra] also did a really good job on the front side picking up the safety from New York to really spring Boston to make it a one-on-one with the kicker. Boston saw the kicker, got to the outside and punched the gas right there. So just something that we had seen as a staff, but it’s all to the players. They’re the ones going out there having to take the in-game adjustments on how guys cover to make sure they have all their blocks, so it was really encouraging to see out of them.
Q. As far as the blocked punt, I know there wasn’t the normal distance between the snap, I guess, and P Arryn Siposs. What happened there? Do you need to block better? Was it just Arryn needs to punt it quicker, one less step? (Ed Kracz)
MICHAEL CLAY: That’s a situational-type thing where we just weren’t 100 percent on that situation.
When you’re backed up right there, you don’t have as much room in terms of getting the punt off, so we needed to be 100 percent perfect on that and we weren’t. It’s unfortunate because as athletic of a play as [P] Arryn [Siposs] did right there, for him to get hurt, it hurts. As a coach or as a teammate, when you walk into the locker room after a big win and you see a guy you’ve been spending two years with on crutches and you go and try to console him and he just puts his head down, everyone is a human being, and it hurts. I don’t have kids or anything like that, but these guys, Arryn, Rick and Jake, I look after them like they’re my siblings or kids, and having him put his head down and just try to console him, that hurts.
But it’s part of life. It’s part of the game. Injuries happen. It’s unfortunate. We’re going to keep Arryn’s spirits up, but we also have an opportunity to go very far in this season, and he’s contributed to that, so we’re going to make sure that regardless of who’s out there, we’re going to try and put our best foot forward.
Q. What’s the sideline like when a specialist goes down dealing with A, the human element; B, you’re dealing with a blocked punt that just occurred, and then you also have to figure out what to do personnel-wise? (Zach Berman)
MICHAEL CLAY: Kudos to [Assistant Special Teams Coordinator] Joe P [Pannunzio] and [Special Teams Quality Control] Tyler Brown. We’re on the headsets were talking about it, what’s next, what’s coming up next, what’s the next unit going out there. So, it’s one of those things where you can’t get too high and get erratic and lose focus. You kind of have to calm yourself down, take a deep breath and say, all right, let’s just take it one by one. Field goal blocks next, all right, let’s take care of that. Nobody is on there? Cool, what’s next after that? Kickoff return? Okay. Let’s get after that. Just have to take it one play at a time, as cliche as that may sound. We do actually have to take it one play at a time, make sure we have everybody in there, make sure we have the right personnel then.
These guys are professionals, and we always have a contingency plan for what happens in games. It happens probably more than you’d ever expect or you’d like, but we usually have a good contingency plan, and it’s helped out with Britain going out there, holding right there, then Jake being the true athlete he is, was able to — 35 yards at the 25-yard line, how our defense was playing, fine by me. We’ll take it as much as we possibly can.
Q. The play that P Arryn Siposs made, he actually had the wherewithal to pick up the ball and try to run for a 1st down, almost make it. What does that say about him in general? (Martin Frank)
MICHAEL CLAY: One, he’s a heck of an athlete, to scoop up a ball like that spinning in the wet conditions with one hand and take off. The situational awareness; the ball is behind the line of scrimmage; if I get this 1st down, offense is going back out. Kudos to him to just think on his feet and try to make the best out of it. Again, it’s unfortunate that it came at a steep price for himself, but it just shows truly how impressive these guys coming in and out, regardless of when people say specialists, non-athlete, all these guys are true athletes out there trying to make the best thing for them.
Q. Were you anticipating the drop kick penalty right away? (Bo Wulf)
MICHAEL CLAY: The drop kick penalty? Was I anticipating I was ever going to see that in my career? Probably not, but kind of knowing the rules and the specialists knew the rules, as well, so they were up right there making sure, hey, this is correct. Good for the refs to have that long conversation because I’m sure they hadn’t seen that rule before, but very fortunate for ourselves in terms of putting our offense again in a good field position to score right there.
Q. When you talk about these contingencies, where does that sort of start? Is that back in training camp when you start asking guys if they have a history of being a holder, long snapper, things like that? (John McMullen)
MICHAEL CLAY: Oh yeah, and it goes back to when you first get into the job learning from people I’ve worked under, whether it’s [Detroit Lions Special Teams Coordinator Dave] Fipp or [Chicago Bears Special Team Coordinator Richard] Hightower, having a contingency plan. I’ve been probably, not fortunate, but I’ve been part of where long snappers go down and you have to have someone in, so you always work these on certain days. I know back when I was in San Francisco on Thursdays after our practice, we’d get our backup holder [former 49ers WR] Trent Taylor and our backup long snapper in there [former 49ers OT] Justin Skule and we’d just get a couple reps just to keep it going right there in terms of if it does happen, we’re ready for it and we’re confident enough to — we have these conversations with [Head Coach] Nick [Sirianni] and say, hey, this is what we feel comfortable with, and we’ll be able to go out there and perform at the high level that we need to.
Q. Do you have a contingency day here where you practice that stuff? (Dave Zangaro)
MICHAEL CLAY: Yeah, we always pull these guys aside, whether it’s later in the week or anything like that, hey, just come get a couple snaps here, just so you’re not first time going out there like oh, this is my first time in two months doing it. We always make sure that we’re detailed up in that sense that hey, if it does happen, we feel confident with the guys that we have going out there to get it done.
Q. It looked like P Arryn Siposs got hit out-of-bounds on that. Did you feel like that was a late hit? (Ed Kracz)
MICHAEL CLAY: Tough from my angle on the other side of the sideline right there. Obviously, the refs have a tough job. I couldn’t tell. Just when he went down, obviously you go into the human element mode like is he okay, then him coming off right there, so I just couldn’t tell from as far away as we were on that sideline.
Q. How about on the tape? (Ed Kracz)
MICHAEL CLAY: On the tape, it’s a bang-bang play. The refs do a good job. They [call] the plays, we just have to live with it.