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Tag:Kevin Huber
Posted on: October 29, 2010 7:19 pm
 

5 questions (or more) with Chargers LS Mike Windt

M. Windt was released from Cincinnati in the preseason but recently signed with San Diego (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Mike Windt is lucky No. 5. As in the fifth long-snapper to play this year for the Chargers. First, it was longtime veteran David Binn going on IR. Soon after, James Dearth and Ryan Neill followed Binn to the season-ending list. Lastly, San Diego released Ethan Albright and signed Windt, an undrafted free agent out of the University of Cincinnati. Fresh out of college, Windt staged a position battle with returning Bengals LS Clark Harris, who eventually beat out Windt.

Now, Windt has begun his career in San Diego, and he couldn’t be more pleased.

We spoke to Windt this week about being a rookie free agent who’s out of work, why he never lost confidence in his abilities to play in the league and about how close he came to chucking his football career to become a fire fighter.

Previous Five Questions (or More):

Oct. 22:
Bengals WR coach Mike Sheppard

Oct. 15: Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong

Oct. 8:
Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich

Oct. 1: Kent Babb of the KC Star

Sept. 24: Texans WR Kevin Walter

Sept. 17: former Bengals, Titans DT John Thornton

Sept. 11: Seahawks RB Leon Washington

1. CBSSports: You were signed by the Chargers earlier this month. Considering they’ve gone through four other long snappers this year, it must be a quite a relief for you finally to get your chance.

Mike Windt: Yeah, when you get into the season, every special teams coach in the country will tell you the same thing. If somebody goes down, they want somebody experienced to back that person up. That’s what they did. That’s what (San Diego special teams coach Steve) Crosby did. He had Dave (Binn) go down, and he brought in the next best experienced guy. They just kept going through the experience pool. But they gave me an opportunity to come out and work out. I wish they had done it five weeks earlier, but honestly, if it was Week 14 or Week 16, I’d still be really happy.

CBS:
What has the past six or seven weeks been like for you after the Bengals cut you?

Windt:
It’s the most stressful time of your life. The day I got released from Cincinnati, it was not a god day. Getting released from your hometown team, it’s different. It was stressful. I knew the situation I was in. My agent explained it to me. They said after I was cut that it was going to be a couple weeks, because I didn’t have any experience. They told me not to do anything with other situations, get a job anywhere else. There are other football leagues out there, but I just didn’t want to do that. I knew I wanted to play in the NFL for a long, long time. But the only way to do that is to play in the NFL, and you have to keep yourself available. For about six weeks, it was a stressful time, knowing everybody else out there is doing their job. You’re watching every game, and seeing if anybody screws up. You don’t hope the worst for anyone, but it’s kind of hard not to hope somebody screws up.

About two weeks after I got cut, I had a workout. And then I had a workout every week until San Diego. I was actually at another workout when San Diego called to work me out. I had to fly out the next day to work out for San Diego. It kind of happened really fast, but I’m really happy. I came out here and I haven’t left yet.

2. CBS: After talking to you midway through Bengals training camp, I knew you were pretty confident in winning that job that Clark Harris eventually took. Did you think that was your job?

Windt: I was so confident that it was my job. That’s why it was such a hard thing to get released. For some reason, I knew I was going to have that job. In the competition part of it, it was a close match. You saw Clark in the preseason, and he’s gotten so much better from last season through training camp. He’s a great guy. I haven’t got anything against Clark. He’s hilarious. But we’re going after the same job, and there’s going to be some animosity. When it came down to that job in Cincinnati, if you would have asked me in the middle of training camp if I had that job, I would have said yes 100 percent. But they wanted experience.

CBS: They want experience, but how do you get experience if you can’t get into the league in the first place?

Windt: Exactly. Dave has been here 17 years, but he was a rookie at some point, too.

3. CBS: I’ve talked to people before who were rookies who had been cut from their original team. They constantly had to stay ready, because at any point during the season, a team could call you in for a workout and you’d have to be on a plane the next morning. How did you deal with that?

Windt:
It’s a mental rollercoaster, I can say that. When I figured I got in and established myself with the Bengals, everybody said you have to mentally deal with it. At the time, I thought it was the mental part of doing my job – dealing with the pressure and all that. They didn’t mean mental that way. They meant mental if something bad happened in my career, it’s how you bounced back. How was I going to respond to being released from my hometown team? What I did was that I told myself on that first day after I got released that I was going to take my day off. I went and played golf and hung out with some friends. After that, you wait.

You work out every day. I was down at the University of Cincinnati every day and I was working out with my college weight coaches. Every day I’d come in, and they’d say, ‘You hear anything?’ It gets annoying to a point. ‘If I hear something, you’ll hear it too.’ You just work out every day, and at the end of the day, you hope you got a call. Finally, I started getting calls. The good thing about that is that whether you get that job or not, every other team knows you worked out for that team. Your name gets out there.

4. CBS:
Had you lived in Cincinnati all your life?

Windt: Please?

CBS:
Ha, that’s how I know you have lived in Cincinnati all your life. Only the people in Cincinnati say “Please?” when what they mean is “What did you just say?” How is now not living in Cincinnati for the first time ever?

Windt: It all happened so fast, you can’t really explain it. The transition itself was really easy, because of Mike Scifres, our punter, and Nate Kaeding, our kicker. They helped me out with everything I needed. (Former Bengals backup QB) J.T. O’Sullivan was a huge part of it, too. When I got there, I had forgotten that he was out here playing now. He’s lived here for years. He’s been a huge help in helping me get around the city, helping me figure out where to live. Living out here, the weather is awesome. It’s 75 and sunny all the time. It’s a lot different from Cincinnati. Everybody from Cincinnati was calling me yesterday – (Bengals punter and former University of Cincinnati teammate) Kevin Huber and (Bengals TE) Chase Coffman, and they’re asking me what I’m doing. ‘Hey, I’m laying out in the sun by the pool.’ They said, ‘Yeah, we're having tornado warnings out here.’

5. CBS: I’m not sure if we’ve ever talked about this before, but you thought about becoming a fire fighter when you were done with high school. Tell me about that. How far did you get in the process?

Windt: When you go to a high school like I went to in Cincinnati (Elder), you can compare it to Texas high school football. Elder is everything to the West Side (of Cincinnati). If you have a personality like me and you want to get your life started, I didn’t want anything to do with football. I wanted to get a career started and settle down. We won two state championships, and I was like, ‘How much better can it get?’ I went through EMT training. I was going to be an intern for the Cincinnati fire department, and I was in the middle of that whole process. But I just really needed to play football again. So, I got on with the University of Cincinnati and went from there.

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Posted on: September 21, 2010 4:21 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 8:34 pm
 

Week 3 Top Ten with a Twist: second-year players

Green Bay LB C. Matthews already has six sacks through two games this year (AP).
Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In my experiences, it’s never too early to hype somebody, no matter how early it is in the season or in a career. Sure, you run the risk of overhype, but then again, who cares? That’s partially what makes following and covering NFL football so much fun. Let the compliments and hyperbole fly and see where everything falls (either in the sky with the stars or on the floor with the garbage).

This week, we’re examining the second-year players who have impressed us the most this season. Some were not stars last season, but in their second years have shown they are, in fact, pretty good – if not great – players. Some were Pro Bowlers last year who have continued their strong play. Some have finally emerged this year. And some who were really special last year but have done next to nothing this season weren’t included.

This is the list in which we celebrate those who haven’t fallen into the so-called sophomore slump. Of course, it’s only two games into the season. Still plenty of time for those compliments to fall from the heavens and thud to the turf.

Sanchez 10. Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets: Listen, I know he’s not the greatest QB out there. He’s got a career 54.7 completion percentage, and he’s got 15 career TDs against 20 INTs. But I saw him in last year’s playoffs manage his team to the AFC championship game as a rookie, and he has the backing of New York’s management. He’s not going to be the next Peyton Manning, but he’s showing improvement. And Sanchez (21 of 30 for 220 yards and three TDs) outplayed Tom Brady last Sunday to beat the Patriots. Maybe an AFC East title isn’t out of the question.

9. Johnny Knox, WR, Bears:
Knox is a member of the powerful triumvirate of players from Abilene Christian who are making an impact in the NFL today (Bengals RB Bernard Scott and Bears S Danieal Manning are the others). He had a solid rookie season on offense, but he really shined on special teams, making the Pro Bowl as a KO returner. He’s made seven catches this year so far, and you saw his ability on the 59-yard pass from Jay Cutler last week when Knox used his pure speed to burn Dallas CB Mike Jenkins and make the catch.

8. Pat McAfee/Kevin Huber, P, Colts/Bengals:
Finally, some love for the punters (though we don’t give enough love to give these two an entry of their own). These two were the best punters in the Big East in their final collegiate seasons – McAfee at West Virginia and Huber at Cincinnati – and they’ve translated those skills into the NFL. McAfee averaged 44.3 yards last year, and though his yards per punt numbers have fallen a bit, he’s dropped five punts inside the 20-yard line. Huber, meanwhile, has upped his average yardage to 44.7.

McCoy 7. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles:
Last season, McCoy scored four rushing touchdowns and he caught 40 passes. Already this season, he’s scored four rushing touchdowns and caught nine passes. Plus, he’s averaging a ridiculous 6.7 yards per rush. He scored three touchdowns in the Eagles win against the Lions on Sunday, and it was the first time a Philadelphia RB has accomplished that since 1995.

6. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos:
Remember how big a loss it could have been when Moreno went down with an injury in the preseason – we asked if Correll Buckhalter or (yikes) LenDale White could take over those No. 1 reps – but since he’s returned, Moreno has reminded Broncos fans why they were so worried about his injury prognosis in the first place. After all, he leads the team with 182 total yards of offense.

5. Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers: Behind Byron Leftwich and Josh Johnson last year, Freeman didn’t get any playing time until midway through the season, where he took over the starting role. He kept his starting position throughout the offseason, but he promptly fractured the thumb on his throwing hand in the preseason and missed some time. But since he’s returned, he’s been quite good, and Tampa Bay surprisingly is 2-0. This, even though Freeman is just 22 years old.

4. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants:
With a solid rookie season, Nicks was a guy who could be expected to make contributions behind Steve Smith and Mario Manningham. Don’t think anybody expected this. Of Nicks’ six catches on the year, four of them have gone for touchdowns. After catching three of them in Week 1, he rolled his ankle and was questionable for last Sunday. But he returned for the Colts game and secured another one late in that contest. He’s becoming a dangerous receiving threat.

3. Brian Orakpo, LB, Redskins:
After Washington drafted him with the No. 13 pick overall in the 2009 Draft, Orakpo had a huge rookie season, recording 11 sacks and earning a Pro Bowl berth. Orakpo’s stats aren’t quite as big so far this year, but he’s still causing plenty of fear among opposing offensive lineman. He’s blitzing more often than last year, and against Dallas in Week 1, he forced Alex Barron into three holding penalties, including the game-winner.

Foster 2. Arian Foster, RB, Texans:
Did anybody see this coming? Especially after last season when he was just a practice squad player in Houston? Well, who would have thought Foster had the 33-carry, 231-yard, three-touchdown career day he had in Week 1 vs. the Colts? Yeah, he came down to earth a little bit Sunday (19 carries for 69 yards and three catches for 69 yards), but still, is there a more exciting RB in the game right now?

1. Clay Matthews, LB, Packers:
He’s been the most dominant defensive player in the NFL this year. He’s got six sacks already this season, and already, there’s talk about him breaking the sack record (um, chances are, this won’t happen). But considering he had 10 sacks last year and is already more than halfway to matching that mark, that’s an awfully impressive figure. And he’s got an impressive head of blonde hair.

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Posted on: June 16, 2010 9:48 am
 

Falling further behind

CINCINNATI – For Bengals rookie long snapper Mike Windt, his entrance onto the practice fields Tuesday was the first time he’d worked out with his teammates in a month. He hadn’t been around for any of the team’s OTA practices, and for a free agent who’s competing with an established LS and an incumbent starter in Clark Harris, Windt’s absence couldn’t have been a comforting feeling for the rookie.

It wasn’t his fault, though.

Because the academic schedule of the college he attended, the University of Cincinnati, remains on the quarter system and since a rookie can’t practice with his new team until his class has gone through graduation ceremonies, Windt hadn’t been on the field since rookie camp in May.

Windt, of course, isn’t the only one.

Titans RB LeGarrette Blount (Oregon) and CB Alterraun Verner (UCLA) couldn’t practice until Monday, and Chargers LB Donald Butler also didn’t take the field until Monday.

Yet, Windt  doesn’t feel he’s at a disadvantage.

“The quarter system screws us over,” Windt told me Tuesday after Cincinnati’s morning practice. “But I don’t feel I’m behind the team. I’m caught up with everything I need to learn. During rookie camp, (special teams coach Darrin Simmons) taught me everything I needed to learn that I’d miss at OTAs. The only day they had without me was the day I got back here on June 10. I feel right, but there are little details you’re rusty on when you don’t do it for a month.”

Windt doesn’t have the same luxury of former and current teammate, punter Kevin Huber. Last year, Huber – who also played at the University of Cincinnati and is now a second-year kicker for the Bengals – couldn’t start until late. The difference, though, is that Huber didn’t have any competition for the punter spot.

“Yeah, but competition brings out the best in everybody,” Windt said. “I’m happy that I’m competing. If I wasn’t competing, I’m not saying I wouldn’t put my 100 percent out. But when you’re competing, you’re putting out 120 percent instead of 100.”

Since he couldn’t practice, Butler spent his time studying the playbook in order to keep his mind fresh.

“My guys have been down here working hard and it’s been killing me that I haven’t been able to work with them,” Butler was quoted as saying on the blog, Chargers Gab . “The biggest thing is, you’ve got  to open your eyes and ears more at this level, because if you don’t hear something, you’re going to be a step behind and then you’re out of the play.”

Blount, meanwhile, simply tried to keep himself in the best physical shape as possible.

“I know I’m further behind,’’ Blount told the Tennessean . “I was just hoping to be in good enough shape to at least maintain the first few days, and I am. The only thing is that the sun drains the energy quick.”

Although it might seem like Windt would have fallen behind the more-experienced Harris, that’s not how he’s approaching the rest of mini-camp.

“I don’t think there’s an advantage or a disadvantage,” he said. “I learned the same stuff he’s learned. It was just a different timeline. When I learned it, he wasn’t here. When he learned it, I wasn’t there. Now, it’s just play football. Snap the damn ball and see what you’ve got in you.”


--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl .

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com