Saturday, October 26, 2013
Fewer kicks the better for Nick Folk
By Matt Ehalt
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- As he talked to fellow kickers and special-teams players in the offseason, New York Jets kicker Nick Folk found out Jets practices were different from most in the NFL.
The approximate 110 kicks a week he did last year weren't matched by fellow players, who said they felt fresh throughout the course of the season with lighter workloads.
Nick Folk credits a less intense training regimen for his good start.
Folk presented his findings to first-year special-teams coach Ben Kotwica, who took the information and created a less intensive training regimen for Folk. It's a new schedule that Folk and Kotwica believe has had a positive effect: Folk hasn't missed a field goal this year.
"I think [Kotwica] sees a little bit of a difference in kind of where we are," Folk said.
Folk said he has decreased from approximately 110 kicks a week last season to roughly 65-70 this campaign. Wednesday is a light day for Folks as he kicks about 15-16 balls, and he has a heavy day on Thursday when he boots about 40. Friday is another light practice with about 15 kicks.
The veteran kicker equated a kicker to a pitcher in regard to how they prepare. Much like a pitcher, Folk said, he puts everything he can into a kick, which wears on him over time. If he's kicking an extra point, he's going to approach it as if it's a 60-yard field goal. There's no variation or decreased energy.
"You can say we're just going to hit extra points today. OK, well that's great, but I'm not going to go out there and just take a one-step kick," Folk said. "I'm going to do the full thing because I don't want to get out of any type of rhythm."
With fewer kicks each week, Folk said he feels fresher for obvious reasons. He's able to get all the necessary work, but he's not overworking his leg. Kotwica said he's monitoring the volume of kicks Folks does each week as the second half approaches.
"One of the things we're looking at -- we have the bye coming up here, this one [versus Cincinnati], then we have the Saints," said Kotwica, who replaced longtime coach Mike Westhoff. "So, [we'll say,] 'Hey, what are we doing during the bye so we can finish the year strong?'"
Folk is off to the best start of his career -- he's a perfect 16-for-16, including three game winners, the latest in Sunday's 30-27 overtime win over the Patriots. Kotwica also complimented Folk for the job he has done on kickoffs. He said Folk is consistently striking the ball with power.
Folk isn't taking any satisfaction in his perfect start to the season.
"The only kick I'm worried about is the next one, which I have on Sunday," Folk said. "Whatever I've done in the past, you can build off that confidence and build off those experiences and go from there. I can't really look back on it and dwell on it, can't let it creep into my mind. The only important kick I have is on Sunday, whenever that is, and go from there. Anything that I can help this team do to win, I'm going to do."