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New Orleans Saints' Thomas Morstead proves worth in multitude of ways

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; New Orleans Saints' Thomas Morstead proves worth in multitude of ways By Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune October 07, 2009, 10:33PM Saints punter Thomas Morstead isn't exaggerating when he says his range would be about 65 yards if he were asked ...

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Old 10-07-2009, 11:31 PM   #1
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New Orleans Saints' Thomas Morstead proves worth in multitude of ways
By Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune
October 07, 2009, 10:33PM
Saints punter Thomas Morstead isn't exaggerating when he says his range would be about 65 yards if he were asked to kick a field goal at the Superdome.

He also is not joking when he suggests he's ready to attempt a drop-kick field goal if the opportunity arises at the end of a half. Having grown up playing rugby with his cousins in England, the drop-kick is one of his hidden talents.

"We actually had a play set up for it in high school, because I can drop-kick it further than I can kick a field goal," said the rookie, who already has proven himself more versatile than even the Saints imagined when they traded up into the fifth round of April's draft to get him.

Morstead is tied for the NFL lead with nine touchbacks on kickoffs, though he had never kicked off in high school or college and just started doing it for the Saints in the final preseason game.

"I try to think of myself as a utility guy," said Morstead, who also served as Southern Methodist's field-goal kicker for three seasons and made 70 percent of his attempts. He hasn't been asked to prepare himself for any field-goal attempts in New Orleans.

"I practice it enough, a small enough amount to where I don't get yelled at for working on it too much," Morstead said of field-goal kicking. "But I want them to know in a pinch, if we needed a 58-yarder and it's a tie game, and there's nothing to lose, they'd feel comfortable with putting me out there."

The Saints might be wise to consider the idea. After all, they almost missed out on the kickoff thing.

Morstead said when he arrived for the team's rookie minicamp in May, he began kicking field goals as part of his normal warmup routine. He said, though, special teams coordinator Greg McMahon told him, "¤'We don't ever want you to kick another ball again.' He said, 'Just focus on punting, that's all we want you to do.'¤"

At the time, the Saints had strong-legged kicker Garrett Hartley penciled into the kickoff role at the time, before he was suspended for four games., and Morstead didn't even know he was any good at kickoffs.

Luckily, though, Morstead decided to "mess around" with some kickoff attempts two days before the preseason finale against Miami, and McMahon couldn't help but notice the distances and hang times.

"They called me that night and said they were going to work on me the next day and see if I could kick in the game, and I said, 'Let's go,'¤" said Morstead, 6 feet-4, 225 pounds.

He also said it was his revamped workout routine leading up to the NFL scouting combine in February that increased his flexibility and leg strength.

"I'm not doing any more heavy weights. It's a lot of calisthenics, body weight stuff, and I feel a lot more athletic and fluid," said Morstead, who said he had worked on his kickoffs in offseason camps in the past but never felt athletic enough to do it effectively.

Morstead said the adrenaline rush of playing at the Superdome helps, too.

Field goals and punts require a strict level of focus and concentration, but he said kickoffs are all about "getting a little crazy and getting after it."

"I've had a lot more touchbacks at home than I have away," Morstead said. "It's fun to get out there when the Dome is rocking like that."

That certainly was the case last Sunday against the Jets. All five of Morstead's kickoffs reached the end zone, and four of them went for touchbacks, nullifying the threat of Leon Washington, one of the league's most dangerous returners.

Morstead also was effective with his five punts. Although his average wasn't outstanding (38.0 yards), he had terrific hang times, and the Jets didn't have a return.

Afterward, 13-year veteran safety Darren Sharper singled out Morstead without being provoked, saying, "He's the best I've seen since I've been in the league at kickoffs, and his placement on punts has been big for our special teams."

Morstead said he made a point to tell Sharper how much he appreciated the comments.

"You see what he can do and what kind of guy he is," Morstead said. "It meant a lot."

Veteran kicker John Carney also has been effusive with his praise for Morstead, though he jokingly tried to steal some of the credit for his success on the kickoffs.

"I told him to kick it high and far; you know, it's just good coaching," said Carney, who pointed out that Morstead gained invaluable guidance during his senior year at SMU from former NFL assistant Frank Gansz.

Gansz, who passed away the day after the draft in April, is regarded as one of the NFL's greatest special teams coaches, and Morstead has often talked about what a profound effect he had on him.

"He's ahead of the curve when it comes to the approach to the kicking game, his workout routine, his mental focus," Carney said. "It may say 'rookie' next to his name, but he really trains and behaves as if he's been in the NFL for five years."

Saints quarterback Drew Brees said the job now is to keep Morstead humble, to make sure he doesn't get a big head during the bye week from all his friends and family back home telling him how great he is.

Morstead, however, sounded plenty grounded when he talked about the punts he'd "like to have back."

"Maybe I'm a little OCD," Morstead said.

It's a little early to reserve a spot on the Pro Bowl roster for Morstead, who ranks 18th in the NFL in gross punting average (43.7 yards per kick) and 13th in net average (39.7). Still, he already has offered enough evidence to vindicate the Saints for their unpopular draft-day choice to trade up and get him.

Saints Coach Sean Payton, who has driven himself crazy with punter and kicker changes the past three seasons, couldn't resist a little gloating this week while talking about Morstead's early impact.

"Everyone was up in arms with a fifth-round selection there, but it looks pretty good now," Payton said.

New Orleans Saints' Thomas Morstead proves worth in multitude of ways | New Orleans Saints Central - - NOLA.com

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Old 10-08-2009, 02:39 AM   #2
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Re: New Orleans Saints' Thomas Morstead proves worth in multitude of ways

Veteran kicker John Carney also has been effusive with his praise for Morstead, though he jokingly tried to steal some of the credit for his success on the kickoffs.

"I told him to kick it high and far; you know, it's just good coaching," said Carney, who pointed out that Morstead gained invaluable guidance during his senior year at SMU from former NFL assistant Frank Gansz.
Carney is a funny guy. If Morstead has the ability to kick a FG from that distance that migh be the reason why Coach Payton would choose to keep Carney.
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Old 10-08-2009, 05:42 AM   #3
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Re: New Orleans Saints' Thomas Morstead proves worth in multitude of ways

exactly. I like the Carney/ Moorestead kicking tandem. All the hand-wringing over his 5th round selection--- I'd use the pick to get Ray Guy. or Morten Andersen. Everyone expects a quality kicker to just magically show
up at practice.

This also confirms a question I've always had: Isnt kicking kicking? I mean, why dont punters kick and why dont kickers punt? Its freakin kicking!

Moorestead is blazing new trails.
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Old 10-08-2009, 07:15 AM   #4
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Re: New Orleans Saints' Thomas Morstead proves worth in multitude of ways

Originally Posted by skymike View Post
This also confirms a question I've always had: Isnt kicking kicking? I mean, why dont punters kick and why dont kickers punt? Its freakin kicking!
Most punters do kick and visa versa...however they usually can do one better than the other. It is not the same. About the only thing that is the same is that you use your foot/leg. When you kick, you are using the tip of your foot and punching the ball near the middle in a transverse plane...if that makes sense, and the ball travels end-over-end if you hit it right. When you punt, you are using your whole foot, pointed straight, and you have to hit the ball in a longitudinal plane in order to have the ball spiral...and that's the tough part.

Whether you think you can or think you can't...you're right!

Last edited by Saint_LB; 10-08-2009 at 07:21 AM..
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Old 10-08-2009, 09:16 AM   #5
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Re: New Orleans Saints' Thomas Morstead proves worth in multitude of ways

Sure if you have a strong leg and decent technique you'll be allright at both but they differ quite a lot and need a lot of practise. I remember when we (Swedish national team) played the World Cup in 07, we had a kicker who could hit it trough the uprights from 65 yds and a punter that could do it from 63 yds. The difference was accuracy in kicking FGs. Same thing when it came ti punting. The kicker could hit them long and straight but had a problem placing them that the punter did not.
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