Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer stopped to talk with the media on his way off the field following the club’s afternoon practice on Thursday, and the eight-year NFL coaching veteran used the opportunity to address a wide range of questions regarding his unit.
Without hesitation, Priefer made it clear that he has high expectations for his special teams playmakers this season.
“Like I told the guys the first meeting we had back in the spring with our full team,” Priefer said. “Part of our philosophy is that we want to be the most feared special teams unit in the NFL.”
Extremely familiar with the landscape of the AFC West after spending the last three seasons as Kansas City’s special teams coordinator, Priefer labeled San Diego’s special teams unit as tops in the division.
But he believes that the players who comprise his unit can compete with the Chargers as the class of the division if they display a number of attributes.
“We need to be tough, we have to be disciplined,” Priefer said. “We have to have great effort and play with great enthusiasm. And if we’ve got those things, plus the tools with the people that we have, I think we have an opportunity to get a lot better.”
Royal Still in the Mix
Throughout the course of training camp, Eddie Royal was routinely positioned back deep, returning punts. While he has not been used on special teams yet this preseason, Priefer would still like to get the speedy second-year player involved with the unit this season.
“I would hope so,” Priefer said. “I just think he is involved in so much on offense that we have to make sure we are keeping an eye on that and how many reps he is getting. If he could do all of it, I’d be jumping on the table. But I was told when we interviewed back in January that Eddie would not be doing as much as he’s done here in the past, which I understand.”
After watching Brett Kern and Britton Colquitt battle at punter, Priefer said he believes both have futures in the NFL, calling the race at the position “pretty neck and neck.”
Kicker Matt Prater has drawn rave reviews from Priefer, too. Priefer was impressed with Prater last year as he watched him from the Kansas City sideline, and he thinks Prater will only continue to improve — like any young player — as he gets more comfortable with the NFL game.
“I think he’s got a lot of tools and he’s only getting better,” Priefer said. “He gotten stronger, he’s got a great work ethic. He’s a good kid, he wants to get better. He knows his craft. For a young guy, he’s only going to continue and get better.”
– Zach Eisendrath, DenverBroncos.com
Here are some more pictures from Thursday’s practice session: