HC Kevin Stefanski (8.18.23)
“Okay, like we talked about last night or this morning, whenever that was– really productive week for us there in Philly. I really thought the practices, the game was a great opportunity for our guys. Great opportunity for the starters in those practices, great opportunity for the backups in that game. So back at it–back in Berea, still in training camp mode, and looking forward to continuing to work. And with that, I’ll take any questions.”
Hey, Kevin, I know you talked about Cade (York) last night, but you keep saying that he’s kind of like the same as the other players using the preseason to get ready for the regular season. But does a kicker feel different in that the operation is the same whether it’s the preseason or regular season?
“Yeah, I just think now is the time to work on our craft. And obviously, like we talked about last night, kickers want to make every kick, we want Cade to make every kick. You just got to continue to work through it. It’s really as simple as that. The kid works very hard. He’ll continue to do that.”
He’s been so good in practice. Have you guys noticed or has he said that there’s anything that’s been different mechanically from practice to the games?
“I mean, obviously there shouldn’t be. That’s part of taking the practice field to the game field, like we talk about with all of our players. But you got to look at everything. You got to look at the procedure, you have to look at your technique, and we’ll continue to do that.”
Kevin, it’s very difficult sometimes for head coaches to have patience with kickers. You worked for one in six years. (Mike) Zimmer went through four of them, including a guy who’s now one of the best kickers in the league, (Daniel) Carlson. So how much did that experience affect what you’re going through right now?
“Well, I think, Tony (Grossi), with any young player, certainly you’ve seen it with kickers, you do go through a tough period here or there. I have a ton of confidence in Cade because I’ve seen him do it in practice, I’ve seen him do it in games. So he’ll continue to work. But I really feel it’s no different than any other player that they got to work on their craft, and now is the time to do that. Obviously, Cade wants to make every kick. We want him to make every kick. It’s an occupational hazard that you’re going to miss one. It’s just how you deal with it and how you bounce back from it.”
Just specifically about Daniel Carlson and Zimmer cutting him after two games, I mean, was that a teaching experience to you?
“All of it’s a teaching experience for me, Tony, everything, of course, but I don’t want to get into that specific situation. I understand the question, but I do think Cade has the right mentality to continue to work through it.”
Kevin, non kicker question for you. Mohamoud Diabate, just another outstanding game from him last night. What have you seen from him and how difficult is he making some of the roster decisions there in that linebacker room on you?
“Yeah, I thought Mohamoud included himself very well last night. Like we talked about, he’s a very active player, sideline-to-sideline. You love ball aware players. You love guys that can knock the ball out, and he certainly did that. He’s really taken the practice field to game field. But like you mentioned, this is the part of training camp and the part of our business where we continue to get young players reps and ultimately make really tough decisions later on. But for us right now, really, the focus is on just continuing to get better. We’re very much in training camp mode still.”
Why do you think it is better not to bring in kicker to compete with Cade?
“Yeah, that’s just our decision. Obviously, Cade’s our kicker. We support him. We have a ton of confidence in him. That’s really as simple as that.”
And then do you have any problem with him posting at halftime on Instagram that he was 3/3?
“I’m aware of that. That was not Cade who posted that. I’ll talk to him about that. And all of our players, we know the rules. They’re not allowed to be – none of us, players, coaches, we’re not allowed to be on our phones once kickoff hits. So we’ll address that with the guys.”
Yeah, Kevin just wondering. It’s going to be a numbers game, obviously, in that receiver room, and I know you guys are going to have some tough decisions to make in there, but you also have a number of injuries at the position that I think will probably factor into what happens with the 53. But having said all that, my question is, it really seems like Austin Watkins has just made a tremendous impact over these past few weeks, and it’s starting to look like he’s making a really strong case for himself to be on that 53. Is that true?
“Yeah, I mean, the tape is your resume, Mary Kay (Cabot). So I think for all of our players, you want to go out and be very productive in practice, be very productive in these games. Austin obviously had a big night last night and continues to do a good job for us. All of the rest of it and how that sorts out, that’s why we have camp, that’s why we have another preseason game. But excited about what he’s able to do”
What does he bring to the table, what makes him special?
“Yeah, I think you saw last night some impressive route running and some of the techniques that he’s used. You see it right from the practice field, right from the one-on-ones the other day in Philly, right into the game tape. So I think he’s done a nice job running routes. Been very dependable catching the ball as well.”
Hey, Kevin, I had an Austin Watkins question, too. He’s mentioned that, when I talked to him a couple of weeks ago, that when he came into the league, he really kind of had to learn how to be a pro, and he didn’t really do that until he got to the USFL. So I’m just wondering, what did you see from him in his time in the USFL? And how important are those spring leagues for a guy like him that kind know, maybe needs to grow up a little bit and learn how to do this?
“Yeah, I think everybody’s path is a little bit different, Dan, and we all are kind of growing at a different pace, if you will. And where he is now, he’s certainly a pro. I mean, he takes care of his business. Those spring leagues, those are reps. Those are just great opportunities for guys to get reps in games, reps in practice, really just to continue to work on their craft. So I think you do see a player that continues to improve.”
Hey, Kevin, I just want to go over some injuries with you. Is Jack (Conklin) still in the protocol?
And did Ronnie (Hickman) have to go into the protocol?
“You know they were testing for that. I’ll get you an answer to that. I don’t know if he’s officially in that protocol or not.”
And do you know about (Lorenzo) Burns and (Mike) Ford, who I think they left with shoulders yesterday?
“Yes, they did. They’re both day-to-day.”
Kevin, I know you said tape is your resume, so my question is, a lot gets made of some of these young guys that really flash in the preseason. Just how do you weigh these preseason games into the calculations` when you’re making some of these tough roster decisions? Do we in the media, do fans make too much of some of these big performances we see, or just what’s your take on that?
“Yeah, it’s a good question. You have to take everything into account. It’s really a global evaluation. It’s how they are in our meeting rooms. It’s how they are in the weight room. It’s what they do in the practice field, and certainly on the game field. The lights are on, and that’s a great opportunity to see the guys in that setting. Having said that, you really do have to take everything into account. Think about a defensive end rushing against a tackle. What’s the talent difference between those two guys as you make your evaluation? So that’s really something that we’re constantly looking at.”
Yeah, Kevin. Just wondering how you feel about Jadeveon Clowney. He has agreed to terms with the Ravens, and if it all goes as planned he will be there playing against you guys in week four. So how do you feel about facing Jadeveon? What do you think he’ll be able to do for them.
“Obviously, Mary Kay. I wish any of our former players luck, but beyond that, I’m not going to comment.”