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Special Teams Coach John Fassel Training Camp Interview Transcript

Here’s what the Rams’ ST coach had to say during the Rams’ third practice of 2016 training camp.

Los Angeles Rams P Johnny Hekker
Los Angeles Rams P Johnny Hekker
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Rams Special Teams Coach John Fassel

(Opening Remarks)

“Hey everybody. Hell of a workout. I just want to start by saying that this is a tradition that (Head) Coach (Jeff Fisher) ‘Fish’ started, and now our fifth year we kicked off training camp in full pads with special teams practice. We’ve had success over the past couple years finding undrafted rookie free agents in these types of practices. It’s just a chance for us to see guys compete, use the techniques that we’ve practiced in OTAs, which we felt we finished on a really high note. But, to put the pads on is a different ball game. So, to see that today, I think we got through pretty clean; the soft tissues and all of that, and guys competed. We’ll check the film out and probably will find a couple hidden gems, like we’ve been able to do the last couple years. It’s a lot of fun.”

(On if any players stood out in particular while watching film of special teams drills)

“A couple linebackers always seem to, kind of, stand out. Guys that are late round draft picks or undrafted guys that are real scrappy and hungry. We’ve had some success with some running backs being, kind of like bonus guys on teams. Probably unfair to say right now until I see the film, but there’s always a couple guys that we don’t really know much about, other than a little bit of college. But the thing is, in college there’s not a lot of special teams film on a lot of these guys, because they don’t play special teams. To see them in a full-speed, lots of space environment is new for them, and that’s when you get exposed in a good or bad way.”

(On the type of quality he expects to see from the players in special teams drills)

“We’re looking for guys that can run. I love to see guys that use the techniques we’ve been working on all of OTAs, which have been unpadded in the last two days. And that’s all we’ve done, is that we’ve worked on the techniques that hopefully help them out today. Who’s doing the right thing, who’s fighting and scrapping, and who shows that they can run, and who’s also being smart about not committing penalties, and those types of things.”

(On the types of special teams players he has found in the past)

“(RB) Benny Cunningham, (RB) Chase Reynolds, (TE) Cory Harkey, (S) Cody Davis, (LB) Daren Bates, who went to Oakland this year, (CB) Marcus Roberson, (S) Maurice Alexander. Last year, (LB) Cam Lynch, undrafted, (WR) Bradley Marquez, undrafted, (LB) Bryce Hager, seventh-round. Those are the guys that have stood out and have made the team, and then performed well enough in games to stick. So, I probably left a few guys out. But, it’s usually the guys you don’t know much about. Not the first and the second or third-round draft picks. So, you know, tough dudes.”

(On thoughts about WR Duke Williams and TE Tyler Higbee)

“Yeah, pretty good. You know, great size. Again, a couple guys that haven’t performed on teams in college. So, it’s great to see them do something that’s new for them and unique kind of to the sport. So, they’re looking pretty sharp.”

(On if the decision of cutting a player is determined by their performance on special teams)

“Yeah, the thing with Coach Fisher is that there’s a priority, maybe the last couple choices, on completing that roster. If it’s a toss-up at a certain position, offensive or defensively, then the trump card is special teams. We’ve been fortunate the last couple of years that Coach Fisher recognizes that and picks the guy out that looks like he might have some potential to play 25 snaps a game on special teams. I think, you know, three, four, five guys a year find that role, and then perform.”

(On the stance of special teams regarding strengths, weaknesses, and areas of improvement)

“I think, you know, our punting, kicking, snapping game is excellent. Benny and (WR) Tavon (Austin) I think have been really successful the last couple of years returning kicks. We’ve got tough guys that can run and cover. We need to cut out some penalties in our return game. That’s probably kept us from being one of the best. A couple big punt returns, a couple big kick returns that might called back. So, we can eliminate some of the penalties, which we’ve been always practicing, but it’s tough. And I think that’s one of the biggest things that can help us improve field position.”