the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

11th Hour Punter Decisions, 2013

Just like every year, several NFL punter competitions went down to the wire the this year.

Garnering the most coverage (due to the high media profile of one of the competitors), in Oakland the younger, lower-profile punter won the job.
"Punter Marquette King simply out-kicked Chris Kluwe and earned the right to replace Shane Lechler as the punter. 'When you give it your all, you've just got to sit back and be patient,' King said. 'I felt like I gave it my all.' Said head coach Dennis Allen: 'He out-punted him. Marquette won the competition as the punter, and we'll continue to work with the holding situation.' King has worked diligently on his holding for place kicks, and while Allen will look at other possibilities, the plan is to have King be the holder against Indianapolis."
"Oakland will go with Marquette King, an undrafted free agent out of Fort Valley State in 2012 who grossed 53.6 yards and netted 45.3 on seven punts in his second preseason with the Raiders. Chris Kluwe's seven preseason punts grossed 46.6 yards and netted 37.4. 'We had both had a pretty good preseason, but as the young guy, he definitely has the higher potential ceiling. It makes sense,' Kluwe wrote in a series of text messages to USA TODAY Sports. 'King's got a really strong leg. He reminds me a lot of me when I was a rookie'."
In New England, the Patriot also went the youth route, going with a rookie over the veteran punter heading into the final year of his contract.
"Ryan Allen became good friends with Zoltan Mesko over the last four months. Now, he has taken Mesko’s job. 'Zoltan was a great competitor and a great guy. I learned a lot from him and I’m good friends with him,' Allen, the Patriots new punter, said after practice on Sunday. 'It was great to be under him, and Steve (Gostkowski) and Danny (Aiken) and have them bring me in and show me how things are done in the NFL. I was able to learn from them, and it really helped me a lot.' Allen and Mesko went through an interesting competition throughout training camp, with both performing well. In the end, the Pats decided to keep Allen, an undrafted free agent out of Louisiana Tech, and cut Mesko. 'My immediate reaction was what an opportunity and a blessing it was to be a part of this organization, and to take it one step further and to be able to stay with this team and help them to be successful this year,' Allen said. 'This whole process is new, especially to any rookie. So you’re kind of in limbo a little bit; a lot changes in the 48 hours when all these cuts happen.' Allen, who won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter each of the last two years, averaged 45 yards per kick in the four preseason games, one yard more than Mesko. Like Mesko, he kicks left-footed."
It initially looked like a similar story in Pittsburgh, as second year player Drew Butler held off the summer-long challenge from the most veteran of all the punters, Brian Moorman. But, and there always seems to be on or two buts each year after the final roster cuts, the Steelers subsequently grabbed the now-available Zoltan Mesko and released Butler.
"Head coach Mike Tomlin gushed about his new punter, Zoltan Mesko, signed Monday after New England cut him. Mesko also will hold for placekicks. 'He is a high-pedigree guy, one that was highly regarded out of Michigan, a fifth-round pick. He's a long guy, a left-footer. He is no stranger to the elements, having kicked in New England in the professional ranks and at the University of Michigan in college. He is an Ohio native. All those things were attractive to us. We are excited about getting him into the fold'."
After having been released by New England, penning and posting a farewell note, then ending up with another job all in a brief span, Mesko tweeted:
"There will be moments in your life where you will not be able to describe your joy and gratitude. I had one of those today. Go @steelers !!!"

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