the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Triple Punt Tuesday - Nick Harris, Mat McBriar & Shawn Powell

Scattered over the course of a typical season in the ever fickle NFL, there are usually several changes at the specialist positions throughout the league. Yesterday during the span of just a few hours - not one, not two, but three teams changed punters. One resulted from injury, two were coaching/management decisions. In all three cases the teams re-signed a player that had formerly been on the team. One team went from veteran to veteran. Another went from youth (second year player) to veteran. The third went from veteran to rookie.

While in the end the NFL is a business, along the way individuals are certainly impacted. As the current catch phrase goes, punters are people too. Yesterday three punters probably had a bad day, while three very likely had a good day.

Detroit Lions
Last summer, rookie Ryan Donahue won the punting job over long time (2003-2010) veteran Nick Harris. Part way through the 2011 season, Donahue injured his quad and ultimately landed on IR. Veteran Ben Graham was signed and finished last year. This summer, Donahue and Graham competed for the job, with the latter getting the nod. But in the Titans game this past Sunday, Graham suffered a calf injury. Yesterday the Lions placed him on IR, and re-signed Harris, who discussed his return:
“It's kind of strange. I look at the rookies and they look at me like, ‘Who's the new guy?' and I look at them like they're the new guys … it's awesome....
I think [the familiarity with Hanson] helped a lot. The past history, the continuity and the fact that we work well together had a lot to do with [his return]....
The atmosphere [now] is that there's a goal. There's a goal to win, to be in the playoffs and ultimately to win a championship. That wasn't here a long time ago, but it's here now, and it's good to be a part of that."
Philadelphia Eagles
This summer, second year punter Chas Henry held off competition from veteran Mat McBriar. Yesterday, the Eagles changed their mind, releasing Henry and signing McBriar to a two-year deal. The Melbourne native previously played for NFC East rival Cowboys from 2004-2011 until a drop foot injury led to his release. McBriar discussed his return to the NFL yesterday:
"It was the best news I’ve had in awhile. It was an understatement to say that I was excited, I was really thrilled....
I went head-to-head with Chas for all of the preseason, and it was a good battle and I really thought whoever won that — and that was Chas — would do a great job. So I was somewhat surprised in that regard to hear from them already....
I’m amazed and I can’t wait for [practice] tomorrow. It can’t get here soon enough, but I also know I need a good week of practice, too, to get familiar with everything again and make sure I can perform at a high level."
Buffalo Bills
This summer, veteran punter Brian Moorman (who had been with Buffalo since entering the league in 2001) held off comepetion from rookie Shawn Powell. Yesterday, the Bills changed their mind, releasing Moorman and signing Powell to a three-year deal. General Manager Buddy Nix discussed the move:
"It goes back to trying to upgrade at the position and looking down the road. We evaluate everything every day, especially every week after a game. We do that, and then we look at things and say, ‘well, we can get better here’ and that’s what we try to do....
It’s always a tough decision, and especially a guy like Brian that’s been here for 12 years and had a great career with the Bills, has been kind of a staple for this organization. A lot of community service, he and his wife, I mean they do a lot of good things, and that makes it tougher, but a decision we felt like we needed to make."
Powell had a good day yesterday:
"I am just trying to get the world to slow down right now...I have just been hoping that everything would fall into place. Now, I just want to go out and keep doing the things that got me here....
They told me not to go out there and try to fill his [Moorman’s] shoes. They told me just to go out there and focus on doing the things that got me here....
There will be some butterflies, and this is a new experience. But I plan to hit it with a full head of steam. I just want to relax and just know my ability will take over."
Wednesday postscript:  
A day after being released by the Bills, Brian Moorman was signed by Dallas. The Cowboys punter Chris Jones sprained his knee in the Tampa Bay game and could miss several weeks. 
“Anybody is surprised when they get cut. Obviously, I’ve been there a long time and it is what it is. It’s time to just kind of move on to a new chapter. I’m excited to be part of such a storied franchise, whether it’s a short time or a long time. I’m just here to hopefully do as good as Chris as done over these last few weeks. He’s done a great job, and I hope to continue that for the team....
This is a locker room full of great guys, I can already tell. But I left a lot of friends behind in the locker room in Buffalo, and I’m going to miss all of them. It’s a little strange holding for a different kicker and all that stuff, but it’s kind of like riding a bike.”

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