Commentary

Westhoff works Nick Folk out of funk

Jets special teams coordinator helped get kicker on right foot after tough OTAs

Updated: August 7, 2010, 1:40 PM ET
By Jane McManus | ESPNNewYork.com

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- There's no point in couching it, Nick Folk looked awful in organized team activities.

There were days the Jets kicker would miss 25-yard field goals and then back up and miss so wide he nearly hit the scoreboard. This was how a Pro Bowl kicker looked? It looked as though the decision to leave Jay Feely unsigned would be ultimately costly.

Special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff saw the problem and addressed it. He measured Folk's steps and had the building and grounds crew construct a kind of T-square for Folk to work on his steps. The contraption helped Folk measure his steps, keeping his approach the same every time.

"We just thought if we could help him be more consistent," Westhoff said. "We tried to tinker with that. Once we did, he was 39 out of 42 with a long of 55, so that's how he finished up."

In 2007, his Pro Bowl year, Folk went 26-for-31 with Dallas. He said he had the same kind of progression there after being drafted.

"That's how it was in Dallas, too, right when I got drafted -- OTAs, minicamp -- was just about like that. I started the first couple days and weeks very slow and then I picked it up toward the end, went to training camp and had a great training camp," Folk said. "So a lot of similarities."

In 2008 he was 20-for-22, but after surgery to repair torn cartilage in his hip, he went 18-for-28 last year and was waived by the Cowboys.

"I just felt really rushed to get back to training camp and to kick, and they had drafted a guy and I felt like I had to push to go compete against him," Folk said.

Westhoff said he was comfortable with Folk, although not as familiar with him as he was with Feely. Westhoff said he could be though, given time.

"I think I can be; that's a hard question to answer," Westhoff said.

Westhoff said the wind in the new Meadowlands will be similar to what it was in Giants Stadium, although less so because of the way the new stadium is oriented. He didn't rule out the possibility of bringing former long-snapper James Dearth back, depending on how Tanner Purdum performs in camp.

Jane McManus is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow her on Twitter.

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Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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