the study of the kicking components within sports

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

NFL Pre-kickoff News

The final round of NFL roster cuts this weekend settled several competitions for specialist jobs, especially amongst punters. It also placed some talented players on the waiver wire, which other teams scrambled to claim. Seattle went this route for their kicker, as they let Jeff Reed go and picked up Steven Hauschka whom Denver had released.
"It has been a real crazy weekend. I wasn’t ever really concerned about the competition in Denver, or anywhere else. I was just going to try to get better at kicking and focus on the things I could control.... When I got released from the Broncos, I knew that some other teams might be interested. I was very fortunate to get picked up here. I’m very excited about that. This is a great fit, and I’m looking forward to contributing."
Long snapper James Dearth's brief stay (several days) in New England ended when the Patriots released him and claimed rookie long snapper Danny Aiken on waivers from the Bills.

The New York Giants released kicker Rhys Lloyd, who had been filling in for the injured Lawrence Tynes. The latter is ready to resume playing.
"I am a little sore. Obviously, I haven't done anything in three weeks. I feel like I am ready but Coach will make that decision. I feel like I kicked pretty well.... I feel like I am ready, and I feel like I am going to be able to play at a normal level with no limitations. We're not going to need someone to kickoff or someone like that. I feel like I can do the job.... I think [Rhys Lloyd] got labeled as a kickoff guy, which is all he did from what I understand in Carolina. They never let him kick field goals, but the leg strength is there. He hits a great ball. He can definitely kick in this league and I hope he gets a shot somewhere."
The Giants also released second year player Matt Dodge, opting to go with veteran Steve Weatherford at punter. Head coach Tom Coughlin discussed the decision:
"That was a tough, tough decision. It was a tough call and a difficult thing to talk to Matt. He responded in a class manner and made it very easy. He came in with a smile on his face. I told him it sometimes takes awhile for a punter to develop. I think Matt will continue to grow and develop and I think he'll punt in this league -- probably punt for a very long time."
In Pittsburgh, punter Daniel Sepulveda kept his job after coming back from a second torn ACL. The Steelers released Jeremy Kapinos, who had handled the punting for them late last year.

Two teams went with a youth movement at punter, selecting rookies over well established veterans. In Detroit, rookie Ryan Donahue won the job and the Lions released Nick Harris.
"The Lions would be getting a good punter either way, but Ryan's going to do well. He has a huge upside, awesome potential.... They told me it came down to two things -- my contract and my age. They said they wanted to get younger and cheaper and that it had nothing to do with performance. It's hard because I consider Detroit my home now. My kids were born here. I have really great connections here now with friends, relationships, church. I know in the NFL nothing lasts forever. I just didn't expect it to end so quickly here."
Rookie punter Brett Hartmann was released by the Texans last week, and it appeared that former Bear Brad Maynard had won the job. However, Maynard was among the final round of cuts, leaving Houston briefly punterless. The subsequently re-signed Hartmann.

In Arizona, incumbent punter Ben Graham was released,leaving the job to Dave Zastudil. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt coommented:
"I can't thank Ben enough for the work he's done for us. He's been an important contributor to some of our good teams, certainly the Super Bowl year and the year after that."
In what was probably the most widely publicized competition, Dallas finally pared down their kicker roster - somewhat. The most recent additions, Shayne Graham and Dave Rayner, were both released. Rookie Kai Forbath was placed on the non-football injury list. That leaves two active kickers - rookie Dan Bailey and David Buehler. The latter will handle kickoffs, his forte. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett discussed placekicking:
"The initial thought is [Bailey] is going to handle most of the field goals and the extra points. [Buehler] will get some work in some situations as a field-goal kicker. Dan will get most of the work in that area."

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