According to NFL.com, Alex Henery averaged 63.3 yards on his kickoffs in 2012, which means that opposing kick returners were fielding the ball at the 1.7 yard line, on average. So far throughout the preseason, he's averaging 67.4 yards per kickoff, meaning that returners are fielding his kicks 2.4 yards deep in the end zone, on average.
Part of that could be the warm weather, or perhaps Henery's banana smoothies are giving him the extra potassium he needs to crush the ball off the tee. Or maybe he's just done some extra squats with his right leg this offseason:
Not so, according to the Jaguars' TV announcer, Kevin Kugler. Apparently, Henery is speeding up his stride this season. Here's the exchange Kugler had with Jaguars color analyst Mark Brunell on Henery's first kickoff against the Jags last Saturday:
Kevin Kugler: “Alex Henery, a guy who had never been known as a long kickoff guy, but during this preseason they worked on his stride, and Chip Kelly says he’s changed his stride so he runs a little faster and thus more kickoffs like that… (ball fielded 9 yards deep by a Jags returner) …for Alex Henery than what we’ve seen in the first couple of years for Alex Henery in the National Football League.”
Mark Brunell: “Boy if you have a kicker who can put it into the end zone or beyond the end zone, you’ve got something. Those kickers are hard to find, but they’re very important.”
Kugler: “It’s interesting to hear Chip Kelly talk about making little adjustments in stride. He’s such a detail oriented coach, and that’s one of the details that sometimes get overlooked, but he does just a little change in the stride, he gets a little bit more speed, a little bit more zip on the kickoff.”
My first thought was, "Who is this Kevin Kugler, and why does he know so much about Alex Henery and his kickoff history?"
Ohhhhh, he's from Nebraska (Henery went to the University of Nebraska)...
Good job by Kevin unearthing that little tidbit on Henery and Kelly.
Here's a quick pictorial of Henery's kickoffs so far this preseason: