SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR FRANK ROSS
What’s up with LS Jon Weeks?
“He’s fine, just a personal day. He’ll be right back, a few days.”
For guys like DB MJ Stewart and DB Isaac Yiadom trying to find their way onto the roster, how important is special teams?
“Yep, you guys see it every year, new additions to rosters. Even if they’re veterans, those guys obviously as they join the group, they’re willing to do dirty work, and that’s kicking game, that’s fourth down. They ‘ve done a good job so far at that.”
Do you like having those guys that thrive on special teams?
“To make a complete football team, you want people believing in that right there, absolutely, good question.”
Have guys like DB Grayland Arnold and WR Chad Beebe going to fit into the special teams?
“Yep, love the guys that have maybe a height disadvantage. Okay, I come from that world. Got to play a little bit lower, a little twitchier. Those guys are doing a good job so far putting their head down, doing whatever is asked, returning footballs, getting extra work. We feel good about where (Chad) Beebe and Grayland (Arnold) are so far, yes.”
HC Lovie Smith has said LB Blake Cashman has come out of nowhere. What have you seen from him?
“Yeah, wouldn’t say it comes out of nowhere from the special teams. I’ve had my eye on that guy for a while. Definitely an exciting player and hoping everything I can do to get him better. In a good situation, he’d be contributing for the Texan’s special teams.”
What are your biggest goals for this year’s special teams?
“When you’re talking 16, 17 games, obviously there’s going to be games that come out like call it a wash or neutral, and the special teams where yeah, you’re sound, didn’t get any big returns, a lot of touchbacks, things like that, core execution. We want to take that next step where on a regular basis have opportunities to impact, and when those opportunities arise, capitalize on them a few more times. When you’re playing the course of a long 17-game season, those things will matter, and those small margins, that’s the game within a game.Sometimes unnoticed, well, we all see what those playoffs and those later games in last year’s NFL came down to, those critical core situations where those impacts ended up being the difference in the end.”
What do you think about the return guys you have?
“Yeah, that’s an open competition. Excited to see who grabs that by the time we get towards week 1. Ball security is the name of the game, impact afterwards. Let’s see who can do it.”
How is DB Derek Stingley Jr. progressing for punt returns?
“Yep, great, so obviously phenomenal athlete his whole life. Refined, yeah, we’ve got to get it to that point, where efficiency, catching it right, getting vertical, those types of things that you see the great ones have done , start to train those mechanics, those habits for a young man.
How far away is DB Derek Stingley from that?
“We’ll let you know in a few weeks.”
What does LB Blake Cashman’s background bring to your coverage unit?
“Yep, done a great job of taking the playbook, trying to apply what I’m asking him to do, the calls we’re making. But on top of that, the guy can run. So, hopefully he’s using all of our fundamentals and techniques and then playing with those explosive traits that’s in his body when it’s time to go out there and make the plays.”
How good do guys like DB Derek Stingley Jr. have to be for you to consider the risks?
“That’s a great question. You have load management on those guys. We all know the faster twitch or the more movements you use, those high yards. We’ve got to back those down at times to make sure we prepare those guys for the full load when it comes to a four-quarter game and of course over the duration of the season So, when you’re talking about guys that are twitchy, explosive, just overall explosive athletes, you’ve got to make sure that they “re rested to those quick short bursts whenever it may come up. That’s a full combination of sports science, that department, and working the training room and things like that, and then measuring how much we can use them in practice as we progress and build towards week one.”
How does veteran leadership and consistency set the tone for younger guys in the locker room?
“That’s right, man, the higher we can raise the entire room, smarter football IQs for the entire room, higher urgency for the entire room, things like that, that’s going to start with the veterans. At some point it would be nice, and it happens for what I believe is a good special teams unit. It happens at some point where I just turn it over. ‘Hey guys, go play ball. You’re the ones doing it.’, and those guys, it’s on their ownership. We get to a point like that, it’s going to have ourselves to have a good chance.”
What does it mean to you when guys want to play special teams?
“All of you guys know where I come from. Got a lot of heart. Want to come play special teams? We’re going to find out. It’s not my job to see the whole picture. They let me and they require me to have nice tunnel vision on the kicking game. So when you’re playing for me, my goal is to have guys create an atmosphere where there’s a lot of ‘want to’, and hopefully that environment is created. The better we’re going to be when guys are wanting and fighting for those reps. Oh, no. Hey, I’m in. I’m getting this one, shaking the next guy. Okay, and jumping in line. If we can get that right there, that’s culture for the special teams game.”