Q&A: Doug Blevins

Vikings kicking consultant Doug Blevins has the experience to judge the team's kickers and punters. He talks about them and how he got into coaching despite being born with cerebral palsy and being confined to a wheel chair.

Doug Blevins joined the Vikings as a kicking consultant earlier this year and worked in the spring camps. He will do the same in training camp this summer in Mankato.

Blevins, 40, spent the previous six seasons with the Miami Dolphins as a kicking coach. Prior to joining the Dolphins, Blevins served as a kicking coordinator for the NFL Europe League from 1995-97, and in 1999. Blevins also did consulting work for the New York Jets in 1994 and the New England Patriots in 1996.

Blevins graduated from East Tennessee State University in 1988. He started his coaching career as a student assistant in 1982 at Tennessee. He worked with the kickers for the Vols for two seasons before being named kicking coach at Emory & Henry College in 1984. He joined the East Tennessee State staff in 1986 and served as the school's kicking coach through 1987. From 1988-92, Blevins coached high school football in Virginia before starting his own kicking consulting company in 1993. He still owns the Davie, Fla.-based company. A native of Abingdon, Va., Blevins has a 6-year-old son, Roman Douglas.

Q: After being born with cerebral palsy and spending your life in a wheelchair, how did you get into coaching?

A: From the time I was 4 years old the only profession I wanted to get into was professional football so I started working with my hometown team. By the time I was in high school, my knowledge of the game exceeded the kids who were playing. So I was almost a graduate high school coach when I was in high school. I broke down game tape and evaluated things. I knew that I would never play a down, so I would have to develop a specialty. In high school, no one knew much about kicking so I began to study that and it quickly became a passion of mine. That ended up being my specialty. After that, I started my own consulting company, and I coached high school and college football.

Q: In 1994, the New York Jets hired you as a kicking consultant. What was the biggest difference coaching in the NFL?

A: The biggest thing with the Jets was that the guys on this level didn't have to practice and punt as much to get the work in. I had to make determinations and evaluate things on a limited amount of balls that were kicked each day. The next biggest thing was the talent. Some of these guys are like machines. The thing that stands out it my mind — the year I was with the Jets, the kickers we released were good kickers; they unfortunately just weren't good enough.

Q: Do kickers get a bad rap? Are they misunderstood?

A: They really do get a bad rap because they're not really that different from anyone else. It's what they do that is different. The guys who do well at it make it appear so easy. Because it appears easy, there's a lack of appreciation of what goes into it. A punter might only make six punts in a game. But people don't see all the work that goes into it to hit those six punts effectively. Very few people in the world will know all the work that we do in one day of minicamp with the Vikings kickers and punters. They see what we do with the rest of the team, but we spend the whole day working to be at this level.

Q: You briefly worked with Aaron Elling when both of you were with the Miami Dolphins. What do you expect from him in his second season with Minnesota?

A: Aaron has the potential to be one of the best in this league. I really believe that. Aaron's first season was very similar to Adam Vinatieri's rookie season. A lot of people in New England thought he should be replaced and he ended up being very good. You will see Aaron have a much more phenomenal year this season. It's a big adjustment going from the street to playing the game on this level in this league. Generally, rookies need patience. If you cut a young man like that, he goes somewhere else and he ends up biting you in the butt.

Q: Considering he ended up inactive toward the end of the season, how would you evaluate punter Eddie Johnson?

A: Eddie possesses a world of potential, and once he gets his confidence up he'll be a very, very good punter.

Q: What does Darren Bennett bring to the table?

A: Darren has an incredibly, incredibly fast leg for a punter. He brings experience and he's mentally tough. He's always been there and done that. He loves the game. He has a great work ethic. He brings a lot of important elements to the team and to the game.

Q: Do you ever wonder what kind of player you would've been if you hadn't been born with cerebral palsy?

A: Every day, every day. I would love to have played football. That's the only thing that I regret about being physically handicapped. I think about that every day. But it doesn't pull me down because I can't do a lot about it.

Q: What keeps you so driven?

A: I've always been driven. I was telling a coach about this: I don't think I would've gotten where I am if I wasn't driven. I want to work eventually in management or head coaching some day. It's still going to be an uphill battle. People that are successful in this game are driven individuals. I don't know what I would do if I wasn't in this game. You can't take this mentality and work in an office setting.

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