Insiders Interview: Todd Peterson

PITTSBURGH: I sat down this week with new Steelers placekicker Todd Peterson and your list of questions for him.

Peterson, a nine-year NFL veteran who was signed to replace Kris Brown, was more than gracious with the interview, expounding on a number of subjects. The following is a transcript of that interview:

DL: How many times have you kicked at Heinz Field?

TP: "About half a dozen times."

DL: How does it compare with other places you've kicked?

TP: "Right now it's perfect. How could it not be? That's what I keep telling people over and over. When I got here, Josh (Miller) said that I wouldn't be able to predict it. Every time I've been down there, it's been 80-plus degrees, hardly no breeze and the grass is incredible. The things that happened in the past are probably a combination of things. I'm sure the weather can be bad. I'm sure the winds can be bad. What I have in my career is that wind alone or cold alone aren't nearly as bad as wind and cold. If it's just windy but hot, you can kick. And if it's just cold but not windy, you can kick. But when you have both, and there on the river, I'm sure you get that, it's probably a tough place to kick.

But what I guess gives me encouragement is that Buffalo was a horrible place to kick and Steve Christie had some tremendous seasons. Chicago's tough and Kevin Butler had some good years. Kansas City can be a tough place to kick and Nick Lowry is one of the best of all time. There is a track record for guys in bad weather. New England is a tough place and Vinatieri has been outstanding.

I guess I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill. I think I can handle it the right way. I talked to Kris for a little bit during camp a little bit, we were able to hook up. We had played against each other and talked to each other before, but we really hadn't spent a lot of time together.

But we were able to talk for about a half hour one day and he said that when he looked back on it, he probably should have gone to a longer cleat as the season progressed. That's something I've always done. I wear a longer cleat on good grass than a lot of guys do. I wear a 5/8-inch cleat where a lot of guys wear a 1/2-inch one. My style of kicking requires that I get a very solid plant. I've got to be able to kick through the ball. I need to know that when I'm there, I'm not going to slip. If that's the case, I'll certainly go to a 3/4-inch cleat when the weather starts to get bad. I'm just going to go out and kick and do what I can do.

I think we've got the great nucleus of a football team. And hopefully the kicking won't be much of an issue, God willing. And when we get to November and December, I'll do the best I can.

DL: How important is continuity with the holder for you? You've used Tommy Maddox throughout the preseason, but Josh Miller was the holder last season.

TP: "Both of these guys are great holders. Josh is a great holder. Tommy is a great holder. The thing with a holder is that he can have just one bad hold and it can be a big thing. Tommy's done it for me and I'm very comfortable with him doing it.

To me it's not as significant who does it so much as they do it well. I want what's best for the team and on the team. Right now, it's great for Tommy to do it and I'm really comfortable with that. But if Josh had to do it, I'd be comfortable with that too. Josh held for me during the offseason. I'm not super concerned about that because they both do a good job. But Tommy made three incredible holds in the (Washington) game (when Bob Jones was the snapper).

Their job is made easier by Mike (Schneck). Mike's so good that if he puts the ball where he's supposed to, like he does 99.99 percent of the time, it's pretty easy for them to catch it and set it down. Their job gets harder when they have to catch it, spin it, or maneuver it. And then my job gets harder. When Mike's in there, it makes their job easier which makes my job easier.

DL: You've been in the league for a while now and seen the ups and downs. Is there anything that can rattle you any more? Kris had had so much success early in his career that he didn't seem to handle not having success very well.

TP: "I guess I feel like there isn't very much that could happen that I haven't seen. A few years ago, Pete Rodriguez, my special teams coach at Seattle, told me that after three or four years, a kicker or punter has pretty much seen it all. I made a mistake a couple of years ago of thinking that I had seen it all.

And I had stuff that was wackier than you can imagine happened, either because I did something wrong or because there was a breakdown. I had to try long extra points. I had to try kicks two and three times because of penalties. Just all types of different stuff can happen. I've been through that stuff just as the nature of the business. You're going to miss big kicks and make big kicks. I would like to think because of that, I'm more prepared mentally to handle everything. But it's a tough job.

This is going to be an awesome place to kick. But if you don't kick well here, it's a tough place.

DL: But that's anywhere, isn't it?

TP: "There's no doubt about it. The expectations are high, and I think that can be favorable for me because if I do my job well, people are going to be very excited."

--Dale Lolley

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