VIDEO: Bob Gregory on Spring Ball Day 7

Dawgman.com spoke Friday with Washington Linebackers Coach Bob Gregory, who has also taken on the added responsibilities of Special Teams Coordinator for the 2016 season. How well does his philosophy mess with that of outgoing Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Choate? And how has the work been to replace Cory Littleton and Travis Feeney at outside linebacker?

What’s been the first order of business now that you’ve taken over Choate’s spot as special teams coordinator?“That’s the spot no one really wants, because the only time you end up on TV is if you get a punt blocked. I’m excited about it. I’ve been involved in special teams for really my entire almost 30 years of coaching. I’m very familiar. I had been around coach Choate for a long time. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully add a wrinkle here and there and I think we’ll be in good shape.”

 

Does your philosophy mesh well with what coach Choate wanted to do? “Yeah, very much so. I think he’s one of the best special teams coaches in the country. But really the overall philosophy always trickles down from Coach Petersen, our head coach. We do our special teams what he wants to do. You’ll see a few wrinkles this year that I think will be great, but it all comes from him. Coach Choate certainly did a good job in his time here.”

 

What’s the process for Van Soderberg? “Well, you’re right, it’s always hard for a mid-year guy to come in; everything is so new to those guys. Really for Van (Soderberg), what he just needs to do – all new guys are tense and nervous – and they just need to relax, kick smoothly, swing smoothly, not get very tense about the whole thing. I think if you watch Tristan (Vizcaino) out there, he’s been around for a while, you watch Cam (Cameron Van Winkle), those guys are in there groove a little bit where Van just need to relax and just play. I think he’ll be a good player for us.”

 

What element does John Ross’ return add to special teams? “Well, yeah, he’s a special teams coordinator’s guy. That’s who you want returning kicks, that’s for sure. Now we’ll see if anybody actually kicks him the ball. Hopefully somebody will. But he’s a dynamic player no doubt.”

 

Would guys like Chico McClatcher, Budda Baker, and Austin Joyner be next in line to return kicks? “Yeah, think you named all those guys. I think all those guys have a chance, there’s no doubt. All those guys can be dynamic players for us and give us a chance to create some positive yardage on kickoff return.”

On the challenges of replacing players like Travis Feeney and Cory Littleton “There’s no question. We’ve had a little bit of that in the past when we lost Hau’oli (Kikaha) and Shaq Thompson. Hopefully those guys have learned a lot over the course of the past couple seasons that since been here. And the next guy steps up. That’s really what it’s all about. But, there’s no doubt, when you lose two really good edge rushers like those guys who are going to be playing in the NFL, those guys need to step up and make some plays for us.”

 

On the outside linebackers “Yeah, I think it’s a young group and a raw group except for a guy like Psalm (Wooching), who’re really been around for a while. And Psalm played last year as well. It’s a little bit kind of his time. But I think it’s a group that has a big upside as well.”

 

What are the keys for Psalm to step up? “I really think that’s it, just continuing to prove it with everything you’re doing. We do want those guys to be pretty dynamic pass rushers, but those guys on the edge also have to be pretty good run defenders as well. Both Travis (Feeney) and Cory (Littleton) did a great job of stopping the run as well.”

 

Does anything surprise you about the chemistry between Azeem Victor and Keishawn Bierria right now? “No, those two guys have been buddies for a long time and roommates and really feed off each other a little bit. It’s fun to see that out there.”

 

What’s the benefit of great chemistry between the MIK and WIL? “I think anytime you’re gelling out there – hopefully all 11 guys are gelling and it’s not just those two inside guys – when all those guys are gelling together and they’re on the same page, that can be a pretty good force out there.”

 

Has anybody stepped up right away? “The guy that keeps showing up to me a little bit is Azeem Victor. I mean he’s a guy that makes plays, he gets some run-throughs; he’s going to be a pretty good player for us. If he keeps practicing the way he’s practicing, I’m pretty pleased with Azeem.”

 

What are some of the details you’re seeing in Azeem Victor? “Well, I think just his knowledge of the defense. He’s taking that to another level. Now it’s his third year in the program. He’s been with us for three years now. So I think he’s really taking his knowledge of the defense to the next level. We all knew he could run and hit and all that. Now you’re in the right place and the right time, which he’s doing.”


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