Being a Mormon, I went on a two-year mission to Bolivia shortly after high school. When that was complete, I walked-on and had to produce on a weekly basis. That taught me how to handle pressure, which is coming in handy right now.
Last season, I converted 27 of 29 field goal attempts with the longest one around 48 yards. Unfortunately it wasn't good enough to get me drafted, but it still gives for me confidence in my ability.
During practice I try to isolate each skill and work on it in sequence until I am satisfied with my complete motion. Accuracy and confidence are obvious keys when you're a kicker. The mechanics have to be repeated until they become second nature. Recently my focus has been on planting my feet, then placing my hips at the proper angle.
It always bugs when some of the players think that kickers don't have to work as hard as the guys, say, on the lines. Believe me, we are expected to be in just as good shape as anybody else on the team. Nick and I have been lifting and running wind sprints, doing the same drills as receivers and defensive backs. We are also on the new diet program that every other member of the roster is working with right now.
Surprising as it may be, Nick and I are friends, even though we will be in a pretty tough battle for position. I think that kickers as a whole have a lot in common. It's the mindset that helps us to be at ease with each other. I'll help him out, he'll help me out. That's the way things go, at least until it gets down to crunch time.
Nick Novak: Tyler and I have similar backgrounds in the fact that I also had a good friend who played for the Bears. Brooks Barnard spent some time in Chicago and we went to Maryland as I did. He is a great guy who really helped me to get to this level. I worked with him a lot during college then again just before the draft. I'm sure that Tyler would agree that having a mentor makes a difference.
Special teams coach Dave Toub told me there would be a wide-open competition for the position. I think that is one of the factors that made the Bears an appealing choice. You want to go where you have the chance to play, to be the best. I have the utmost respect for Doug Brien and I'm sure that Tyler does as well, but this job is up for grabs and that's a good thing. That makes everybody better.
I knew Tyler by reputation well before coming to Chicago. He's a strong technician and a player who performs well under pressure. We are of similar size. I'm 6' and he's 6'1" and both have good leg strength and accuracy. The decision will come down to who kicks the best and I'd like to think that would be me.
Life in the ACC made me accustomed to a high level of competition and can keep a cool head under fire. If the game comes down to my making the field goal, I'm confident that I can get the job done. My goal for years has been to play in the NFL. Now that I'm this close to reaching that goal, I'll do everything I can to lock in a spot.
Surprisingly the veterans have been helpful with a bit of teasing from time to time. That's to be expected I suppose, but it keeps the rookies together. We are all new so sharing this experience and helping each other as best we can makes sense.
I feel that I have a fair chance to make this team. The competition is one of the reasons I came here. It's nothing personal. I respect Doug and I think Tyler is a great guy, but I want the spot.