John Crist: You guys were very good on special teams once again last season, but your kickoff coverage wasn't as strong as it had been in the past. Did you guys really miss Brendon Ayanbadejo that much?
Robbie Gould: No, I don't think that was the case. I just think my kicks weren't as high last year as maybe I would like to have them, and we had a lot of young guys coming in and out. You can't pinpoint one thing. If you look at last year, we had a lot of injuries and a lot of young guys that had to step in. Guys like Craig Steltz, Joey LaRocque, those guys came in and did a great job for us, but it took them a couple weeks to get used to what it's like to play special teams in the NFL.
JC: We all know that the return teams have directional calls, like return right, return left and middle return. Is there such a thing as directional kickoffs, or are you simply trying to bang it down there as far as possible every time?
RG: There's always schemes to everything, you know what I mean? There's all types of kicks you use, whether it's bloops, squibs, onsides, kick right, kick left. You always have some type of scheme going into a game. There's a game plan. Obviously you want to exploit their players, like they would like to exploit you. So you look for guys that you think coverage-wise are maybe their weaker side and try to exploit that side.
JC: Is it possible to kick too much in training camp? Do you need a backup leg like Richmond McGee out here just to make sure you don't tire yourself out before the season begins?
RG: Sure, I mean you used to have 100-man rosters, and you used to be able to find that diamond in the rough being that you could bring in a kicker, a punter and a long snapper. Five years ago when I was a rookie, I was that guy. Coaches like a live leg instead of using a Jugs machine. It gives you a chance to have a break, and he's done a great job so far.
JC: I know you're an avid golfer. Is your pre-kick routine on the football field anything at all like your pre-shot routine on the golf course?
RG: Golf and kicking are very similar. They're the same swing patterns. They're the same mentality. The biggest thing is that you have to realize, in golf, you pick a point out. Field-goal kicking, you pick a point out behind the upright. That's where you kick to. You see a lot of correlation between the two, and that's why most kickers are pretty good at golf.
JC: When Lovie Smith is deciding whether to kick a field goal or punt the ball away, are you a part of that decision-making process? Does he ever seek your input before making up his mind?
RG: You know what, I really don't get into all that. It's a coach's decision. I'm there on the side. If they ask me to kick, I'm ready to kick. I think the biggest misnomer is I haven't hit a 50-yard field goal yet. You know what? Whatever. It is what it is. It's been four years. I've only had three attempts in my entire career, so whatever. Whatever they're going to do as coaches, yeah, I'd love to hit more 50-yard field goals. I would love to have them let me kick more 50-yard field goals, but that's not my decision. The biggest thing is I'm out here trying to help the team in the best way I can, and then to make field goals. If that's a 49 as compared to a 50, then that's what I'm going to do. All I want to do is win games, and if we win games and I do my job, then everyone's happy.
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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
Camp Chat: K Robbie Gould
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