1. What’s the most difficult part of the job?
“Consistency. Being consistent coupled with all the variables – the wind, the rain, the footwork, the drop. It’s being consistent and making solid contact all the time.”
2. You’re consistent in everything you play – cornhole, golf. How did you gain that skill?
“Repetition. It’s just doing things over and over and over. You practice, honestly. It comes down to the 10,000 rep rule and going out there each and every day focused on quality reps and trying to reciprocate each and every punt the same way. Anything with a repetitive motion, you make sure it can be the best it can every time.” What’s the 10,000 rep rule? “It’s from, I believe, a Malcolm Gladwell book. You don’t become really good at anything until you’ve done well over 10,000 reps.”
3. Is there a specific punt that you enjoy most?
“Anymore, I would say I enjoy going out there and trying to confuse the returners. Maybe it’s a regular turnover ball and they think we’re going somewhere else. I like going back and watching the film the next day and seeing confusion on their minds. Through their footwork … they may immediately start sliding this way and the ball goes that way. Seeing that uncertainty, that means we have them on their toes.”
4. What goes into being a good holder?
“You have to be confident with your hands, have great skill in that you have to be able to catch the ball well and spin it so it’s just the way Tucker wants it. Coupled with that, you have to have a great snapper. If you don’t have a great snapper like we do with Morgan, then that holder has to do a lot more. I basically sit back there and put the ball down because the laces are already there. It’s something that we work on every day and we want that to have the repetition of a punt or whatever else we do.”
5. You had the fake punt throw in Atlanta? How much do you call for fakes to let you show off that arm?
“I’ll let Jerry be the coach and I’ll be the player, but I would love to do more of those. I love throwing the ball. Running … I’d love to run straight to the sideline and a first down. But I enjoy the fakes.” You’re 5-for-5 passing, right? “We just have to keep it going.”
6. I remember when you ran down former Broncos returner Trindon Holliday. Have you always been fast, and what drove you to become a punter?
“I was always the fastest kid growing up and on my high school team. I was recruited as a punter/linebacker to Nebraska, so the goal was to come in as a punter at first and then in spring ball transfer over to linebacker. But after having that one year at punter, I realized I do enjoy the possibility of trying to learn something and perfect it whereas punting you can never perfect it because of all the variables and timing issues. But you have the ability to sit there and focus on one thing. I felt like at that time, focusing on one thing rather than moving to linebacker and getting my head beat in, I didn’t really feel like that was the right time to do that. I felt like the safer bet was to be a punter.”
7. Any part of you still want to hit people?
“I used to until about a few years ago. Now I don’t want anything to do with that. Seeing receivers get hit … If I have to go out there and make a hit, I will make a hit and I will not back down. But I do not want to be … seeing what these guys go through every time after a game, they should all be on crutches. I do not want to put my body through that. As punters and kickers, we have so much of the nagging stuff that we’re trying to address, whether it’s just tightness and making sure we don’t have soreness during a game. These guys, their whole bodies are full … I can’t imagine that.”
8. What other parts of your life do you focus on perfecting?
“Me and the kids shoot hoops a lot. I shoot hoops here, free throws. I don’t go out there to just shoot. It’s just part of my habit to try to make it every time. I’m very meticulous with the yard. Tucker will get a laugh out of that. I’ll mow the yard and those lines have to be straight. Otherwise, we have to go back and forth until they’re straight.”
9. When does being that much of a perfectionist create a problem in your life?
“I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on it. I know when I have to be perfect and I know there’s room for error. I don’t get myself so caught up that, if I don’t hit a punt right every time, I’ve got to just be OK with it. If you watched Tiger Woods or these golfers … I watched Jeff Feagles growing up and all these punters. These are arguably the greatest punters and golfers, yet they mishit balls too. Your goal is to go out there and be great every time, but it’s almost impossible unless you’re a machine.”
10. What’s something we don’t know about Justin Tucker?
“You probably know everything about him. What do they not know? Oh, man. He talks from the moment he gets here in the morning till the moment that he leaves.” Do you ever tell him to shut up? “Yeah. There’s those times. Tucker loves to tell stories. His stories could be about putting air pressure in a ball. That story will last four minutes. He will tell us about the temperature, how many dimples are on the football, how many laces are on the football. It’s like, ‘Tuck, just get to the point.’ With that, yeah, there’s a lot of ‘shut ups’ in there.”