Even NFL punters have slumps.
If they want to remain in the league, though, they quickly figure out how to reboot.
That's the situation Bears veteran Adam Podlesh finds himself in this week.
Sunday at Detroit, Podlesh's kicks were low and short, a bad combination.
Tuesday, six free-agent punters were at Halas Hall to audition. One of them could get a call back if the Bears' seven-year veteran doesn't revert to the form that enabled him to post the two highest single-season net punting averages in franchise history.
For now, coaches say the punting tryouts were just to see what's out there, as they do for every other position throughout the year. But there's also a message, even if it's unspoken.
"I don't think Adam needs anybody to come in (for a tryout) to know that the next week he's got to punt better," coach Marc Trestman said. "We've all got to play better. We've got to coach better and play better if we're going to be in a position to win on Sunday."
In 2011, his first season with the Bears, Podlesh became the only punter in team history to net 40 or more yards per punt (40.4), and last year he finished at 39.4, bouncing back from a two-week slump in November that also saw the Bears bring in punters for tryouts.
Against the Lions, Podlesh's net was 28.8, factoring in Micheal Spurlock's 57-yard return to the Bears' 22 that set up a short touchdown drive. Podlesh also had a 33-yard punt that went out of bounds at the Lions' 49, and Detroit scored two plays later.
Hence, the summoning of the free-agent punters, which Podlesh was told about and which he expected.
"Yeah, they notified me, which I was appreciative of," said the 29-year-old who was a fourth-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2007. "Not that it would have changed my thought process on anything.
"I kind of understood, after what I put out there on the field in Detroit. I basically said to myself, 'I wouldn't be surprised if they were going to look at what was out on the market.'"
So this week it's back to basics for Podlesh, and that means the mechanics of dropping the ball before the punt, the tempo of his approach and the mental part of the process.
"I almost always fall back to my drop and my tempo; those are big pieces to the puzzle," he said. "I'd say that's about 90 percent of my punting."
That and what he calls "bad swing thought" caused his poor performance at Ford Field.
Podlesh said he believes last year's slump and his ability to pull himself out of it and finish strong will be beneficial in making rapid improvement this time.
"I've been through it before, which is good having that experience, I guess, even though you don't want to go through it," he said. "But it feels good (now),
"I hit the ball well (Wednesday), made some mechanical adjustments with what I've been doing fundamentally, and I've been working my tail off to make sure I put out a good product Sunday."
That's what the coaching staff would prefer. The fewer disruptions to the roster, the better Trestman likes it, although he realizes that some change is inevitable.
"We love this locker room," Trestman said. "As a head coach, you don't want to change your locker room. You want to work with the guys you started with, and that's what we're going to continue to do.
"(But) I think every professional knows that he's got to step up each and every week and be at his best. (General manager) Phil (Emery) says it all the time: 'We're always going to look to improve our football team and see what else is out there.'"
Podlesh's job is to eliminate the Bears' need to look.
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