CONTINUED FROM PART ONE...
Charlie Bernstein: What's it like being on the practice squad with the Falcon's last year?
Tony Yelk: The practice squad is an extension of the 53 man roster, same roster, same uniforms. You're right in the line of fire. The practice squad is for guys they really like, but the numbers just don't work out that year. It serves a purpose, last year I gave Koenen an opportunity to rest his leg as he was handling all three duties. It helped prepare me for the rest of my career.
CB: How does it help you make a roster?
TY: I don't know if I can answer that, I haven't made a roster yet (laughs). You develop more experience. Consistency is seriously the name of the game. There are a few guys who can completely hammer the ball, and their legs are on a different level. Everyone else is on the same level, if you miss, it has to be a pro miss, it can't miss the net, it has to miss by a close margin. Everyone misses kicks. Same thing with punting, you can't hit a 55-yard punt with a 5.2 hang all the time. If you miss it has to be a 40-yard punt, not a 32-yarder. The more consistency you develop, the more your misses become acceptable and you can hang around a long time. In the pro game you have to do a lot more things (than in college). At this level, you have to directionally punt, kickoff, hang it, flip-flop, etc. Field goal kicking is virtually the same. Do I think I'm there in many regards? Yes. Am I on a 53-man roster yet? No. I have to be in the right place at the right time and there's still work to be done. If you're good enough they'll find a way to get you on the roster somehow.
CB: In Jacksonville, you're competing against a fourth-round pick punter, and another guy who signed a contract extension. How do you keep motivated in this situation?
TY: Originally when I signed, it was me and Chris Hanson, I knew they'd be trying to replace him because of money and the fact he had a poor year in '06. I thought I was walking into a great situation, then they draft Adam, who's a talented punter. He'll have a great career and he's a better person. First it takes the wind out of your sails a little bit, then you question yourself. Do they think you're not ready, am I just a camp leg? If I'm a Falcon or Jaguar, I'm really not trying out just for that team, I'm auditioning for the entire NFL. If I need to improve on X, Y, or Z, I'm going to do it, and compete in preseason and we'll see what happens. There's always somebody out there wanting your job. I'm going to try my best and who knows? Maybe Scobee goes down during the season, maybe they call me back? You never know how the chips will fall, and it isn't something I worry about, it is what it is, and I'll work as hard as I can. If it doesn't work out at the end of the day, I'll know that I did the best I could.
CB: You've been with Joe DeCamillis for the last year and now this season, what are Jaguars fans getting with this guy?
TY: I don't have much to compare him to. High energy guy, not real laid back at all. But you can talk with him like anyone else off the field. I appreciate what he's done for me. He's been around a long time, he's very prepared, very organized, I've learned a lot from him. He's a straight shooter, and I appreciate that. He'll tell you what you're not doing well which is a good thing. I think they hired a great one here in Joe D. and they have great personnel here.
CB: What do you think is harder, kicking in college at Iowa State, high school in Wisconsin, or down in the Florida heat?
TY: I think Iowa, the stadium is like a wind tunnel. The weather wasn't really that bad in Wisconsin when I played (in high school). In Iowa, the wind was a serious challenge, and not many opposing teams punted or kicked very well.
CB: What do you want to do when your playing career is over?
TY: I'd like to be a strength and conditioning coach, maybe open up a camp with my two brothers. I'd also like to coach, I've been blessed to have many great coaches and teachers in my career, and I'd like to give back to the community.
CB: What do you like to do away from the football field for fun?
TY: I'm a pretty chill guy, do the normal things, hang out with the guys, go to movies.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. Feel free to contact Charlie HERE
Rebel Yelk: Interview with Tony Yelk- Part 2
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