Q&A with new special teams coach Bobby April

Q&A with new special teams coach Bobby April
January 21, 2013, 4:30 pm
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Raiders new special teams coach Bobby April said his connection to and "synergy" with Raiders head coach Dennis Allen was that strong. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

MOBILE, Ala. -- It's been a whirlwind of a weekend for new Raiders special teams coordinator Bobby April, who formally accepted the job on Saturday. Because, less than 48 hours later, he was on the Ladd-Peebles Stadium turf, coaching up the North squad's special teams units in preparation for the Senior Bowl.

April, who has coached special teams in the NFL since 1991, was in Philadelphia the last three years and replaces the fired Steve Hoffman, talked briefly with CSNBayArea.com for a few minutes after practice Monday.

In admitting he essentially took the job sight unseen, as far as knowing the Raiders' personnel, April said his connection to and "synergy" with Raiders head coach Dennis Allen was that strong. He called Allen "a rising star" in the NFL coaching circle.

Following then, a Q&A with the Raiders' new special teams coordinator...

Question: What is your philosophy when it comes to special teams, and what specifically do you want your unit to do when it's on the field?
Answer: Really, I'd like them to play as fast and as hard as they can, and try to create as much energy, which obviously, will create big plays. That's from a physical standpoint. From a mental standpoint, I want them to concentrate on really one thing -- increasing the probability of us having the field position to play good on offense and defense. If we can do that, we'll augment our team with something that will give us a greater probability of winning the game and when we win a game, we all benefit.

Q: When you look at the Raiders' personnel, what do you see?
A: You know what, I haven't had a chance to (look at it yet). I took the job Saturday at about 3:30 and I got here (in Alabama) and I tried to organize practice.

Q: But you do know that Jacoby Ford is one of the better kick returners, but he was hurt last year, and Sebastian Janikowski has one of the strongest legs in the game and Shane Lechler…?
A: I know some of the players and, actually I coached a couple of them -- Keenan Clayton and Omar Gaither, in Philadelphia -- and I'm looking forward to trying to help the team. If I can help the team, that's what I'm here for. That's what assistant coaches are supposed to do.

Q: If you haven't had a chance to look at personnel, did you get a chance to look at some of the schemes they ran last year?
A: I haven't had a chance to look at anything. It happened so fast, that I never had a chance to look at any film.

Q: Then what about the job appealed to you?
A: I took the job based off the camaraderie I felt between myself and the head coach, primarily. And then the camaraderie I had with the assistant special teams coach (Keith Burns) and us three, as we sat together, I felt a synergy that says, We're trying to win the game, we're trying to do the very best we can. And that's my philosophy. I mean, I want us to be unselfish, I want us to play hard, I want us to be professional. And I felt that, the opportunity to do that would come from the head coach and he would supplement me with what I need to do, and I would supplement him and the organization with what they need to do. Like I said, I think there was a really good camaraderie. I had a really good feeling feeling that this guy, I mean, this guy is really a rising star.

Q: You're talking about Dennis Allen?
A: I think so. I just felt a real sincerity and authenticity from him. A real confidence and yet a kind of a humbleness, too. So that's a rare combination. And I just felt good about him, being the guy leading the team. So I feel very fortunate to be here. Great organization, I mean, it's got national prominence. People everywhere know and respect (the Raiders) and it's a real honor to be here. I coached at USC so I have a lot of familiarity with the Raiders because when I was at 'SC, they were in Los Angeles and I was there a lot because Marv Marinovich's son Todd was on our team, and then Earl Leggett's boy, Brad Leggett, was our starting center and then Al Davis had somewhat of an affinity for 'SC, coached there and the whole deal. So I was there a lot and I respect this organization. It's a proud organization. Hopefully, we can get what they made their name on back. Those championships and that winning. And I want to be a part of trying to do it.

Q: And when you were with the Eagles, you had one of the more dynamic return men in the game, a Bay Area guy, too, yes?
A: Cal. Yeah, Cal's had a lot of guys. Yeah, DeSean Jackson's really good and he made some good plays for us.