the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Some Good News & Some Bad News

As the pinnacle of American football, the NFL's very limited number of jobs are sought after by a very large number of players. While this is evident at various times throughout the year, it is especially so at the end of each preseason when teams must make their final roster cuts to meet the 53 player limit. Heading into this past weekend, three teams still had undecided competitions at the kicker position. Bottom line, that meant that by Saturday's roster deadline three kickers received good news and three received bad news. Being at or near the pinnacle also means that all six kickers received the full attention of the media before, during, and after.

Prior to the decisions, the comments from both players competing for the Cincinnati Bengals' job mentioned the importance of obtaining good film, whether it be for the present job opening or a future one. Dave Rayner, who would ultimately receive the bad news, noted:
"I really don’t have any idea what’s happening because they haven’t said anything to us either way. It’s still a competition and I’m going into it like the job is still wide open. The truth of it is one of us is not going to be here so you want to put together some good film because there is always a chance that at some time in the year someone is going to mess up or get hurt or something is going to happen so you always have to be ready."
Mike Nugent, who would ultimately receive the good news, noted:
"I definitely think I can be ready. I feel like I’m getting there. I always want to make sure I’m honest with the coaches. Because I wouldn’t tell them I’m ready to go if I wasn’t.... I think all you can do to convince them is do what you can on the field, so I hope the video looks good."
Prior to the Baltimore Ravens' decision, Shayne Graham discussed the process:
"I feel like I’ve been hitting the ball well. There are a couple of days I’d like to take back. I don’t know if there’s any unbalancing of the scales right now. We’ve got one week to get it figure out. Luckily for me, my job is not to make that decision. My job is to make the kicks when I can and make the best of those opportunities.... The tough one will be upstairs when they have to make that decision. No matter what happens, it’s justifiable to either end. Obviously, we all want to be the one who wins out."
Graham did not win out, as the Ravens opted to go with Billy Cundiff, who subsequently discussed his reaction upon receiving the good news:
"It was really nice to get a good call at this time of the year. In years past, that hasn't always been the case. This time, I was able to see the fruits of my labor. But we know that in January, no one really cares that you made the team. They want to know how well you played. So I've got a lot of work to do.... My wife and I talked about it every day, and we made sure to never look past the next obstacle that was in front of us. When I looked back during my flight home, I thought, 'Man, I took advantage of every situation I had, and I performed as well as I could considering what was laid out in front of me.' So I was really happy with what I had done, and when I got the call, I felt like it was affirmation and confirmation of what I had already thought of my performance."
For Cundiff, it also capped his comeback to the NFL after a hiatus of several years:
"We were joking about it in training camp that this is the first training camp since 2005 I’ve been through with the team that I was with the previous year. So I’ve had five or six years here where I haven’t had the ability to work with the same people over the course of the offseason and get all of those reps. But when I came in from the whole offseason programs and went into training camp and the preseason games, there was a comfort level there that I haven’t experienced in a really long time.... I had a chance to compete against a guy who had been a franchised kicker the year before, a guy that’s played in a Pro Bowl. So if you need any more motivation than that, I’m not sure you have a pulse. So I had a lot of motivation. I didn’t necessarily think of myself as the underdog, but I definitely thought that I had something to prove."
As we discussed back in April, the Houston Texans competition featured two very well established veterans. Neil Rackers ended up winning the job:
"I’m excited, very excited. Right now, I’m thinking a lot about Kris and his family and their situation. I respect Kris so much.... I’m excited to be part of a really good team. My mind-set when I came here was to compete with Kris knowing that it would make both of us better kickers. I’m a competitor. I’m a team guy. I play with a lot of heart, and I’ll do anything I can to help my team win."
Of the three kickers that received bad news, Kris Brown had by far been with his team the longest:
“I did everything that I could do, and they had a difficult decision to make. I’m disappointed, but I can’t say it caught me off guard. I’ve said from Day 1 that I would focus on what I could control – competing and kicking. I think I had as good a camp as I’ve ever had. I kicked extremely well. I wanted to make the decision tough for them. When I look back on these last nine years I like to think that I’m responsible for some of the success the team’s had. I’ve made a lot of great friends. I’ve built a lot of great relationships. I’m going to miss everybody. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m going to look around and see what’s out there, and I’m sure I’ll kick again.”

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