MARVIN LEWIS (Head coach) and DARRIN SIMMONS (Special teams coach)
Initial comments:ML: Other than Andre, this is the draft pick that we spent the most time with. I think he stayed at Darrin's house every other day for a while (joking). We really spent a lot of time with Kevin. We were fortunate enough to coach him in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. We spent that time around him and we were there with him all week. Darrin has spent time with him on three or four other occasions. We feel that Kevin has great potential, a strong leg and all the things that we're looking for. He'll have a chance to come in here and compete for a job. It's an area that we want to improve in. I think I sat before you at the end of last year, upset about where we were in that phase of our (team). We need to get better there, and I think we are taking steps today to really fix that.
Q: What makes Kevin Huber special?DS: I really like his mentality. Obviously, the familiarity with kicking in this city helps. He has spent his whole career here. He has spent his whole life here. I feel really comfortable with him mentally, and I think that is so important, especially with those young guys, to be able to handle conditions and handle situations. I was really impressed by the way he handled himself in the game at the Senior Bowl. That's the one thing that, as a coach, you don't get a chance to see or be around — how the guy responds in a game. Being there on the sideline (with him at the Senior Bowl), I think, really helped that. He's somebody I really felt comfortable with.
Q: He's been good at directional kicking and dropping the ball inside the 20. Do you think the fact that he has played on a very similar FieldTurf surface at UC will help him at Paul Brown Stadium?DS: Yes. He had a better senior year at that than he did his junior year. In his junior year, he had several touchbacks. I know his gross average was up a little higher as a junior, but he had more touchbacks. This year he was able to control it more, as their team was better this year, on offense especially. And, he had some more plus 50 punts. He did a good job with the inside-the-20-punts. I don't know that if being on the field turf really makes a difference. Probably half the guys I looked at played on that surface. His familiarity with the weather and the field conditions here is the big factor.
Q: It's not often that you find a punter that changes the game:ML: He had a couple of games where he did that. The bowl game at the end of the year, I think he held them in the game by backing up the offense and put their defense in a great spot. He's played in big football games, and he has played well. The thing that impressed me the most about Kevin is that I could give him a hard time all day at practice, and say 'I came all this way to see you punt the football.' (Laughs). I remind him of that all the time. I think that he is going to be able to handle what comes with playing here. It's not going to be too big for him. He's been in that situation. I think that we have really been blessed here. Darrin has done a great job making sure that we have some even-keeled individuals that have been our specialists. We have really been blessed, because they don't always come that way. Our guys have really been even-keeled. They have been great guys on the team and been able to handle situations. We look forward to having Kevin in the mix now.
Q: What did you like about Kevin's demeanor?DS: Like Coach Lewis said, it's not too big for him. There was never any panic to him. Before the game it was raining a little bit, and it was wet, and I never once heard him talk about the field being wet or the conditions being wet. Those things seem like little things, but for specialists they're big things because they have to handle the ball. If a receiver drops a pass, they go to second down. If this guy drops a punt snap, then we're in big trouble. I also make it a point in the Senior Bowl to have the players show what they can do. I don't want to change a whole lot with them throughout the week. When you get to the game, it's an opportunity for them to go shine. We have a certain thing that we do every time we punt. I asked him if he wanted to do that, and he said 'I want to play it like you would in a game.' He went out on a little bit of a limb, and that may have affected his performance a little bit, to do what we would do in a game. I thought that spoke a lot to his mental toughness and to the fact that we feel real comfortable around him and with him throughout the course of a game. It's the little things that people don't think about. Like, 'Where's the guy on the sideline?' Is he a hard guy to find on the sideline, or not? Kevin was right there where he should be, doing the things that he should be doing. I think Coach Lewis said it perfectly, 'It was not too big for him.' I've been around guys when it's been the other way, where you have to go find the guy on the sideline and look for him everywhere. Or, they worry about the wind and things like that. I didn't have to worry about that with him.
Q: What's it like to make a call and fulfill someone's lifelong dream?ML: It's fun. When we called Michael Johnson, his father answered and you could hear the excitement in his voice. Huber was on the golf course, so he's coming right now. I think it's cool, and I think that he knows that we really have liked him. We have spent a lot of time with Kevin. I think it's pretty cool for him to grow up here, go to school at UC and go through the season they had, and now come here and win football games. This is pretty neat for him and his family. I'm sure it's a big thing for him in his life. It's exciting for us to have him with us. I know it means a lot to them.
Q: Is he in the middle of a (golf) round right now?ML: Well, not any more. Some people don't want to sit at home. When I talked to Chase Coffman, he had been sitting at home all day watching the TV. I think everyone goes through it differently, so Kevin chose to go out and play golf. I think the big tackle from Wisconsin a few years ago, the guy taken by Cleveland, went ice fishing. I'm sure it's a nerve-racking day. Just like it is for us to watch five picks to come off the board, and us with a list of five guys hoping you get the top three of those five. We have been pretty fortunate thus far, yesterday and today. I think that we have had the guys really grouped well in the rounds, because they are coming out in the rounds in which we had them graded. That's always a good sign as you look at the way our scouts and coaches have graded the players. You don't want to be thinking, 'Why do we have these guys rated so high, and they're still sitting there?' It's been a good process.