the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

NFC West Specialists 2011

Our NFL specialist journey heads west today, taking a look at the four NFC teams.

Arizona Cardinals
The three Cardinals specialists have 27 combined years of NFL experience (plus 12 years of Australian Rules experience in one case), although they head into just their second year working together. Punter Ben Graham (who also serves as the holder) joined the team late in 2008 and long snapper Mike Leach came on board in 2009. Kicker Jay Feely is the newest, having been signed during the 2010 offseason. The only one facing competition for their job is Graham. Initially it was with undrafted rookie punter Derek Epperson out of Baylor who was signed following the lockout. He was released and today veteran Dave Zastudil was signed.

San Francisco 49ers
The kicking job now belongs to free agent acquisition David Akers, whom the team signed to replace Joe Nedney. Akers noted, “He had such a wonderful career here and what a great guy for the community and what he did for team was amazing. I’m not trying to replace Joe. I’m just trying to come out and do the same thing I was able to do in Philly.” He joins two specialists with whom he worked at prior Pro Bowls: punter/holder Andy Lee and long snapper Brian Jennings. Of them Akers commented, "You know they're easy to work with. And they're true professionals and they'll do whatever they can to help you." Lee bruised his hip in the second preseason game, so the team added Sam Paulescu presumably for the remainder of August.

Seattle Seahawks
Clint Gresham is back for a second season as the long snapper. Back for a fourth year is punter is Jon Ryan, who also serves as the holder. He won’t be holding for Olindo Mare, whom the Panthers signed via free agency. The kicking job belongs to the winner of a competition between Jeff Reed and Brandon Coutu. Reed finished last year with the 49ers after being released midway through the season by the Steelers. Coutu was drafted by the Seahawks back in 2008, but spent the year on the bench behind Mare. The Seahawks opted to go with Reed, releasing Coutu last weekend. Undrafted rookie punter John Gold out of Texas is also on the roster.

St. Louis Rams
Josh Brown is back again at kicker. During the lockout he spent some time conditioning at a local high school, “I bought me some track spikes and I’ve been running with the track team a little bit. It’s a good time. I’m definitely the slowest guy out there. But you know, I’m trying to stay in shape.” Brown hit a big FG in each of the first two preseason games. Against the Colts he hit a 60 yarder at the end of the first half. Against the Titans he hit a 42 yard game winner on the final play of the game. Donnie Jones is back again at punter. The team released veteran long snapper Chris Massey earlier this week, leaving the job to Jake McQuaide, an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State.

This post sponsored by Footballguys.com
 

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