Alive and kicking

The past few games have been frustrating for veteran Bears kicker Paul Edinger. Blocked kicks and missed field goals have marred his formerly perfect record and have caused head coach Dick Jauron to come to his player's defense on several occasions during press conferences at Halas Hall.

Although he acknowledges that he might be in somewhat of a slump right now, Bears kicker Paul Edinger has no intention of becoming discouraged or of radically changing his technique.

"I'd like to be perfect but sometimes I miss. All kickers do," Edinger said. "That's all there is to it. The ball was just off here against the Rams this past weekend and before that in Detroit. It pulled left, probably by a centimeter. Such a small fraction, but a miss is a miss."

Does he see any reason to alter his technique to compensate?

"No, I am doing pretty much what I have always been doing in the way of preparation," Edinger said. "It's served me well for quite a few years and I see no reason to change much at this point. But I am working on timing and distance with special teams coach Mike Sweatman this week in the Bears indoor facility."

Dealing with blocked kicks, which have also been problematic recently, have left Edinger using his mental game as much as physical technique.

"With a blocked kick, you have to forget about it almost immediately," he said. "You can't go out the next time it's your turn and wonder if somebody is going to get their hands on it. That's a rookie mistake. Sure, I used to do that. I'd get mad and spend way too much energy thinking about it. Now I just concentrate on getting the ball where it is supposed to be."

Edinger says that kickoffs are particularly difficult because the angle of contact with the ball has to be exact for greatest distance. Trying to overcompensate for his innate range of power can also lead to problems.

"Anytime a ball falls short, you know that your foot wasn't exactly where it should have been, or that you are trying too hard for that distance," he said. "Wind and weather can come into play. It's something you have to adjust for as you are making your approach. You have to practice foot pressure and angle over and over. That's why I am always out on the field for quite a while before a game."

Edinger seems pleased with the new Soldier Field facility and doesn't think that the altered configuration should have any effect on the trajectory of his kicks.

"The stadium is still in the same location, so the conditions are really quite similar," he said. "Any time you get a strong north wind or a wind off the lake, you can notice it, but that was true in the old stadium as well."

Edinger feels that kicking is a mental game and that complete concentration is the key to any kicker's success. To achieve the desired state of total focus, he tends to stand apart from teammates while on the sidelines. Before a kick, Edinger utilizes an elaborate routine of side steps while approaching the ball.

"I was a soccer player before I was in football and this is pretty much of a soccer type approach," Edinger said. "You need to see the ball and the goal posts, feel the wind, and visualize the angle of your kick."

When asked about the final minutes of the Bears-Rams game last weekend, during which he told coach Dick Jauron that he didn't feel that an attempt from the 49-yard line was a viable option, Edinger paused, then answered.

"The conditions weren't good and I felt that it was not within my range. I like to be at or near the center of the field on the 35-yard line or closer. I can make longer kicks of course, but this is the most optimal distance for me."

Does the pressure of having the game on the line and a field goal the only option intimidate him?

"No, that's what kickers live for," Edinger said. "That is the kind of a situation that we expect. Every kick is a new kick. You can't think about the old one. If it went wide, or it fell short, that should never be in your mind. You're out there, you're focused, the ball is going to go through the uprights. That's why you're here."


Bear Report Top Stories