Ryan Plackemeier has a locker not far from Fred Smoot, filling the German slot in what Smoot has called “the European corner” of the locker room. During yesterday’s open locker room Smoot-a-thon, Plackemeier jokingly observed that the only time people asked him anything was when something went wrong in the punting game, so I asked him if there was anything he had found particularly interesting since coming to Redskins Park.
He paused. “[Special Teams Coach] Danny Smith chews a lot of gum.”
This is true. He not only chews a lot of gum, but he will freely offer it to just about anyone who asks, including, I guessed, Plackemeier.
“No, I’m not a gum chewer,” he said, shrugging. “I’m not too interesting – I just try to fly under the radar.”
But it was too late for that kind of escape, and I asked how things had been since he had signed on with the Redskins.
“Things are going great. Shaun [Suisham] and Ethan [Albright] are great, really humble guys. They don’t talk a lot, they do. They just show up on Sundays, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do. It’s gotten better every week, the punt game’s gotten better. I don’t necessarily think you can just look at stats with the punting situation sometimes.”
Well, what HASN’T gone so great?
“I’ll tell you, the two punts I’m real frustrated with are the two end-over-ends that went into the end zone, because I never get touchbacks. That’s something I’ve prided myself on and I just didn’t get a bounce two weeks in row, and I’ve just gotta give James [Thrash] and those guys a better chance to get down there and have a chance to down them.”
He shook his head. “Those are the two I’d like to have back, but other than that, I think that I’ve helped out the team.”
Well, it was nasty out in practice today, which has to make things awkward when you’re holding for kicks. How do you handle those conditions?
“You just have to concentrate a little more. We have a couple slight adjustments, nothing major. The best grip you can get on the ball is with your bare hands, I think, so I don’t wear any gloves or anything, and Ethan doesn’t wear any gloves. We just go out there and do it and, like Coach Zorn said after practice, you’ve just gotta focus in and concentrate a little bit more. You should always be doing that anyway, but when it’s raining, just moreso.”
Is it notably tougher for you?
“I just have to make sure that I get a handle on the ball and get it down and Shaun swings through it. We’ve all got a tough job to make it as smooth as possible for Shaun in those situations.”
And in practice today, how’d things wind up?
“It went well today. No problems with the holds, so I’ll take that on a rainy day.”
I had just finished discussing hot sauce with Fred Smoot, so I asked Plackemeier what he uses it on.
“Eggs,” he said immediately. “Always. And chicken.”
No beverages, though?
“No. Absolutely not. But always, always, on eggs and chicken.”
Photo by Ned Dishman.