The ball gets booted in the air. Chargers kick returner Richard Goodman does not take his eyes off the spiraling pigskin.
He pays no attention to where his feet are moving, only concerned with staying under the ball. Sometimes this means he’s at the back of the end zone. Sometimes it means he ends up on the 20.
Wherever he ends up, it won’t affect the play at all.
He will always run it out.
“I’m an aggressive player,” Goodman said. “Before the ball gets kicked up, me, as well as the other 10 guys are thinking I’m bringing it out every time.”
Safety and special teams player Darrell Stuckey is one of those 10 guys who is committed to having Goodman’s back so he can try and run it out.
“It’s a certainty that he’s going to bring it out,” Stuckey said. “That’s what he’s told and that’s what he’s going to do every time so we’re expecting that. No matter how deep he catches it we still need to maintain our blocks. It’s a known thing on special teams and on the return.”
But there is always that moment of commitment. The moment when Goodman’s eyes switch from vertical to horizontal. He takes in the field in front of him and scouts his options.
“It depends on how good I’m able to score the ball up, as far as moving forward,” Goodman said. “But if I catch it moving backwards I probably won’t bring it out.”
In Goodman’s three years in the NFL, he has yet to kneel the ball down. He has averaged 22 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs, who the Bolts take on in Arrowhead this weekend.
Goodman scored his only return for a touchdown on the road.
But, he is not reckless.
The confidence special teams coach Rich Bissacia has in his ability is conditional on his performance. And Goodman knows it.
“Coach has given me the green light, and I feel like I can play ball and go,” Goodman said. “We’ve been successful and I think if I was making any bad decisions, Coach would definitely have something to say but we’ve been pretty good.”
This year Goodman has had six returns with an average of over 30 yards per return.