It may sound like a no-brainer, but special teams coordinator Craig Dickenson expects his kickers and punters to be more than just a strong leg.
In addition to the regular kicking and punting drills Tyler Crapigna, Josh Bartel and Quinn Van Gylswyk have been working on tackling and running back drills in case the situation calls for it.
“We’re really trying to train these guys to become better athletes and think of themselves as better athletes so when we ask them to do something maybe a little out of the box, they’re able to do it,” Dickenson explained Thursday after practice.
All the extra drills is something that Van Gylswyk – the Roughriders third round draft pick – has never been expected to do before.
“It’s been a stressful first few days of camp,” Van Gylswyk admitted before adding “it should get a little bit better.”
Van Gylswyk was attractive to the Roughriders because of his ability to do all three parts of the kicking game. At the University of British Columbia, where Van Gylswyk went to school, he was in charge of kick offs, punts and field goals. In fact, Van Gylswyk secured the Vanier Cup for his school by kicking a last second field goal.
His game also earned him NFL looks before he signed with the Roughriders shortly before camp.
“There’s so much value in a Canadian kicker that can also punt,” Dickenson said.
“He’s struggling a bit, I’m going to be honest with you – and he knows it,” he added. ”Right now he’s got a lot of information on his plate and I think it’s slowing him down a little bit.”
But it’s not slowing down Australian punter Josh Bartel.
“He’s punting the heck of the of ball,” Dickenson said of the 31-year-old, who joined the Riders for the second time in his career this season.
Dickenson said the plan is to keep Crapigna kicking field goals and have Bartel and Van Gylswyk compete for the punting job. While Van Gylswyk can kick field goals, Dickenson said focusing him on punting will help save the rookie’s leg a little bit given the intensity of practice and everything being thrown at him.
Yet, the competition for punter hasn’t stopped Bartel from helping out Van Gylswyk.
“He’s just kind of walking me through some things, getting (me) out of my own head when things aren’t going my way,” Van Gylswyk said.
“It’s good to have a few words after I shank one,” he added.
And while it’s not Dickenson’s decision on how many of the kickers get to stay on the team, he said he’d recommend keeping all three of the kickers for as long as they could help the team.
“Right now I feel that way about all three of them,” he said.
Justin Capicciotti and Jeff Knox Jr. still haven’t been back to practice after leaving earlier in the week, both are considered day to day.
Dylan Ainsworth and Alex Ogbongbemiga both left practice early for treatment, there’s no current update on their status.
Tyree Hollins and John Chiles returned to training camp this morning.