No, seriously this time.
For more than a week, I’ve taken light-hearted pokes at the quietest competition in camp, the kicking position. I am here to report to you that the battle has actually, really, begun.
Today marked the first time that the kickers went head-to-head, kicking extra points after touchdowns at the end of practice. Results were somewhat rough.
After a Tim Hightower touchdown scamper, Shayne Graham punched the ball wide left. After a Ben Chappell to Keiland Williams touchdown, Graham Gano shanked the ball wide right, nearly hitting a reporter in the head.
Head coach Mike Shanahan was not about to have practice end on a pair of whiffs, and trotted Shayne back out there. This time he was able to put it through, and the competition was over for the day.
For those of you keeping track of this Graham-on-Graham crime, your tally should read Shayne 1, Gano 0.
In all seriousness, this practice was just the first of many opportunities for evaluating the talent of both kickers. For Shanahan, the clock on the competition starts now.
“We’ll evaluate the competition every day,” he said after practice. ”We put them into situations like end of the game, game-winning field goal. We’ll do that a number of times before we have to make our cut. We try to put them into situations and see how each guy reacts.”
Even though Shayne likely emerged with the edge today, it didn’t sound like he was particularly proud of his first showing, but not worried either.
“I feel like I was hitting the ball pretty well,” he said. ”It’s a matter of finding our timing, because timing really means everything. I’ve learned in my career over the last 11 years that you’re gonna miss some every now and then.”
“I don’t dwell on a missed kick,” he explained further. ”My last [practice] rep was 48 with 15 yards to spare.”
A 63-yard kick in practice would go a long way towards Shayne winning the job, but we’ll have to see.
Tomorrow’s special teams report will cover the Australian Saga of Sav Rocca.
Tags: graham gano, shayne graham, washington redskins
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