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Monday, October 5, 2015

New Orleans Saints Kicker, Punter & Snapper News

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October 6, 2015 - punter Brandon Fields signed
"Fields will be taking the place of Thomas Morstead, who suffered a leg injury in Sunday night's overtime win over Dallas. Morstead is only expected to miss the next one to two games, a source told Fields, 31, holds Miami's franchise career records for gross (46.8 yards) and net (39.2) average. Fields' gross average ranked fourth all-time in NFL history entering the season. He also was a Pro Bowl selection in 2013." - Fox Sports

September 5, 2015 - Zach Hocker wins kicking competition, Dustin Hopkins released
"Zach Hocker has been told he will be the New Orleans Saints’ kicker this season, a source told The Advocate. Hocker beat out Dustin Hopkins for the role by making 4-of-5 kicks in the preseason. Hopkins finished 3-for-5, including two misses from longer than 50 yards. Hocker, on the other hand, knocked through kicks from 47, 50 and 53 yards, his only miss also coming from 50." - The Advocate

August 3, 2015 - kicker Morten Andersen joins Ring of Honor
"Not many kickers get their names in the rafters at NFL stadiums, but not many kickers have careers like Morten Andersen. Andersen, one of the greatest kickers in NFL history, has been announced as the next addition to the Saints’ ring of honor. In making the announcement today, Saints coach Sean Payton argued that Andersen also belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Payton makes a good case. Andersen was a Hall of Fame finalist last year, and he’s the NFL’s all-time record holder for games played (382), points scored (2,544) and field goals made (565)." - NBC Sports

July 29, 2015 - former Illinois State long snapper Chris Highland signed
"Two-time All American long snapper Chris Highland has signed a three year contract with the New Orleans Saints and is expected to report to training camp this week. A Bloomington Central Catholic graduate, Highland was named to the College Sporting News 2014 Fabulous Fifty FCS All-America Team and was also a First-Team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection. Highland played in all 15 games last season and was not credited with a bad snap. He recorded a career-best three tackles on special teams in a win at Indiana State and was a crucial part of the Redbirds run to the FCS National Championship Game." - WJBC

May 19, 2015 - kicker Shayne Graham released
"Graham, 37, connected on 19 of 22 field goals for the Saints in 2014. He joined the team late in 2013 after kicker Garrett Hartley was released. Graham has been on an 14 NFL rosters and played for nine different teams since he entered the league in 2000 when he was signed by the Saints as an undrafted free agent. He's connected on 266 of 311 field goals (85.5 percent) in his career." - NOLA

May 17, 2015 - kicker Zach Hocker signed
"The New Orleans Saints have added a third kicker to their roster, signing Zach Hocker after this weekend's minicamp, according to a league source. Hocker, who was waived by the Miami Dolphins earlier this month, has tried out for the Saints at least twice before, most recently last December. The Saints already have two kickers on the roster in Shayne Graham and Dustin Hopkins." - NOLA

February 12, 2015 - kicker Shayne Graham re-signed to 1-year deal
"15-year NFL veteran Shayne Graham completed his first full season with the New Orleans Saints in 2014.  On Thursday the 6-0, 210 pound kicker agreed to terms with the Saints on a one-year contract. Graham signed with the Saints in 2000 as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia Tech.  He ranks seventh in the NFL in field goal accuracy (85.5%) in his 15 years. He's connected on 266-of-311 field goal attempts with 9 NFL teams and has scored 1,219 points, tied for 35th in NFL history. Last season Graham sent 19-of-22 field goal attempts (86.4%) right through the uprights and ended 2014 with 103 points, the Saints leading scorer." - WLOX

December 17, 2014 - kicker Dustin Hopkins signed to practice squad
"The New Orleans Saints have added a second kicker and stowed him on the practice squad, an unusual move that raises questions about the future of starter Shayne Graham. The Saints signed Dustin Hopkins and placed him on their 10-man practice squad on Wednesday. That could mean the Saints are considering Hopkins as an active-roster option in the final two games of 2014 or are giving him an extended tryout with an eye toward 2015. A native of Houston, Hopkins played at Florida State and was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft. A lingering groin injury forced him to the injured reserve in 2013 and he was released by the Bills in August. Hopkins, 24, said he continued to rest his injury and didn't start working out earnestly until a few weeks ago. 'It was never fully healed, so that's why I waited this long to even do tryouts,' Hopkins said. His first tryout was with the New Orleans Saints last week. Coach Sean Payton said he 'opened some eyes' and the team opted to sign him." - NOLA

December 16, 2014 - punter Thomas Morstead named team's Man of the Year
"For his charity work benefiting children and people battling cancer, punter Thomas Morstead deserves to win this season’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, the Saints said Tuesday. The Saints honored Morstead as their team’s man of the year, and that enters him into consideration for an award presented by Nationwide insurance that recognizes one NFL player for both outstanding community service and success on the gridiron. Through his “What You Give Will Grow” foundation, which he started in 2012, Morstead raises funds, holds events or makes appearances in hopes of showing anyone he encounters that charity both touches those on the receiving end and inspires others to give similarly. He has said he focuses on children’s charities and cancer initiatives in part because he was raised by his parents in a tight-knit family and because his mother survived a breast cancer diagnosis when he was younger.... However, the Saints also put Morstead up for the Payton award because of what he contributes to the special-teams coverage units. Morstead and the Saints this year have held opponents to 3.3 yards per punt return, the lowest in the NFL. Also, Morstead’s average of 42.6 net yards per punt is fourth in the NFL. Morstead handles kickoffs for the Saints as well." - The Advocate

October 30, 2014 - kicker Shayne Graham named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for October
"Graham has converted all nine field-goal attempts and nine PATs so far this month. He had three field goals in all three games played (the Saints had a bye in Week 6) and is the only kicker who made at least three field goals in all of his team's October games. Graham scored at least 10 points in all three October contests, including a season-high 14 in a Week 8 win. On the season, Graham is 13-14 on FGs and 20 of 21 on extra points." - Saints

September 2, 2014 - kicker Shayne Graham re-signed
"Graham, a vested veteran, was cut on Saturday during the final move to get to 53 players after battling with rookie Derek Dimke all summer. He was re-signed Tuesday afternoon. Saints coach Sean Payton said last week that the team liked both of their kickers and weren't looking elsewhere after a close battle all through training camp. And despite the availability of veteran kickers such as Connor Barth, Jay Feely and Ryan Succop, he stuck to that plan." - NOLA

August 30, 2014 - kickers Shayne Graham & Derek Dimke both released
"Veteran Shayne Graham, who joined the team late last season, and rookie kicker Derek Dimke both were let go. That leaves no kicker on the roster just eight days before the team begins the regular season at Atlanta." - WDSU

August 28, 2014 - final preseason game
"The Saints appeared serious about giving kicker Derek Dimke a chance to separate himself in the race with incumbent Shayne Graham in their 22-13 defeat against the Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Thursday night. They let Dimke take three kickoffs, one extra-point attempt and two field-goal attempts they had in the first half of the final preseason game. Graham was going to handle those duties in the second half, but as it turned out, the Saints didn’t kick in any capacity after halftime. Dimke, 24, converted the extra point and field goals while auditioning for a crucial job in a league in which games frequently come down to last-minute kicks — yet it somehow didn’t entirely inspire the confidence one would hope for. Blame the field goal Dimke attempted from Baltimore’s 36-yard line with 5 seconds to go in the first half. It was the perfect chance for him to prove his potential and strong leg outweighed the known quantity provided by the 36-year-old Graham, whose 85.5-percent accuracy rate since 2001 is the seventh-highest all time and fifth among active players. But Dimke pushed the 54-yarder wide right. It was admittedly long, but it was in indoors and at home. The good news for him: He was bailed out of the miscue when Ravens cornerback Tramain Jacobs ran into him. Officials flagged Jacobs, moved the ball 5 yards closer, and Dimke was true on the mulligan, improving his mark to 2-for-2 on the night (he was previously good from 23) and 4-for-4 in the preseason." - The Advocate

August 23, 2014 - third preseason game
"Kickers Shayne Graham and Derek Dimke were both perfect (Graham made field goals of 39 and 24 yards; Dimke a 45-yarder." - ESPN

August 21, 2014 - kicking competition
"We're just shouting distance away from the Saints' third preseason game Saturday at Indianapolis and the team doesn't seem all too close in deciding between veteran Shayne Graham and youngster Derek Dimke. 'It's pretty competitive, and it's still ongoing,' coach Sean Payton said about the kicker race after Thursday's practice. These next two games will undoubtedly play vital roles in determining which way the Saints turn in this battle. If you're asking me [Larry Holder] to pick who's winning as of today, I'm going with Dimke. Dimke has never kicked in an NFL regular-season game despite being in some training camps the past couple of years. But the unproven Dimke has outshined Graham through the duration of training camp and in preseason. Wednesday's practice was another example. Dimke has the stronger leg of the two and drilled his three field-goal attempts from 33, 39 and 49 yards out. Graham went 2-of-3, missing the longest one wide left." - NOLA

August 15, 2014 - second preseason game
"In Friday's preseason game against the Titans Dimke made all three of his field goal attempts from the experimental 33 yard distance. He did not have a field goal attempt while handling the kicking duties in the first half. Graham kicked in the second half. He made his only field goal attempt from 34 yards, and he converted his only extra point kick." - My Stateline

August 8, 2014 - kicker Shayne Graham misses long extra point
"Graham was nearly on the hook for a crucial and almost game-changing missed extra point in the team's 26-24 win over the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on Friday night. Of course, had this been the regular season, Graham wouldn't have been attempting the PAT from 33 yards.... His competition, Derek Dimke, kicked a 37-yard field goal to retake the lead for the Saints in the third quarter and later connected on an extra point. Before his miss, Graham kicked a 37-yard field goal of his own in the first quarter, and added a successful PAT in the second. Dimke and Graham have both had solid camps, and the preseason games could serve as a tiebreaker. Coach Sean Payton has suggested that Graham will be tough to beat because of his consistency and experience. But he also doesn't like missed extra points. 'Listen, the ball's on the 15-yard line, so we're not talking about hitting a 50-yard field goal here,' said Payton when asked his opinion of the experimental rule. 'I'd like to think we can hit a field goal when it's on the 15'." - NOLA

August 6, 2014 - kicking competition
"The kicking battle continues at New Orleans Saints training camp, with Derek Dimke and Shayne Graham each attempting four field goals during team drills. Graham came out the victor on Wednesday, going 4-for-4 during the morning practice. 2: Number of field goal misses by kickers Derek Dimke and Shayne Graham during all of training camp. Graham and Dimke both made 39-, 44-, and 51-yard field goals. Graham made a 54-yarder, but Dimke missed wide left." - Times-Picayune

August 2, 2014 - Black & Gold scrimmage
"Derek Dimke: The strong-legged young kicker again bested incumbent Shayne Graham in field goal drills. Dimke went 3 for 3 while Graham missed his first attempt and finished 2 for 3. The competition is close but Dimke appears to be leading early on." - NOLA

July 27, 2014 - kicking competition
'Shayne Graham was re-signed by the Saints, who also signed Derek Dimke and brought him to camp to compete for the starting job. 'There's competition there, but (Graham's) efficiency is very good. He'll be a tough guy to beat out,' said Saints head coach Sean Graham. Dimke, 24, hit six field goals in the preseason for Tampa Bay in 2013 and had a brief stint with Detroit in the 2012 preseason, but has never made a regular season NFL roster. Graham, 36, is older and considerably more experienced than Dimke. Both kickers did well on Sunday, combining to hit 7-of-7 field goals from inside 40 yards during one drill." - Times-Picayune

July 12, 2014 - kicker Derek Dimke headed to training camp
"In less than two weeks, Derek Dimke will be back at it again. Back kicking field goals with another NFL team, and back trying to win a starting job that will land him in a regular-season game. “I want to kick in a real game; in a regular-season NFL game,” said the former star kicker for Boylan High School and the University of Illinois. 'But if it’s not in the cards, it’s not in the cards. I’m just going to enjoy the ride as long as it lasts.' Dimke will head into training camp with his third NFL team after signing a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints over the winter. He will report to the Saints’ camp in Greenbrier, West Virginia, on July 24 with the rest of the team, including veteran kicker Shayne Graham. Dimke lost a competition to Graham when New Orleans needed a kicker last postseason, but he earned the team’s respect — and another shot at the job this offseason." - Rockford Register Star

June 23, 2014 - Shayne Graham discusses kicking competition
"Well, me and Derek don't look at it as a competition. Really what the other person does doesn't necessarily play into our own performance. So we just both go about our days, both work hard and get along with each other well, and at the end of the day we know it's only going to be one of us, but we don't necessarily treat it as a me against the other person kind of thing.... I don't think either one of us wants to wish poorly for the other person. One, that just draws negativity, and two, when you're hoping other people are going to miss it changes your thought process instead of how you should be keeping yourself focused.... He's young. He's a hard worker. I was in his shoes at one point in my career, so I respect where he is with his career and where he's trying to get with it. I also know I'm trying to keep my career, keep it going, and be a part of this team. So we're friendly, but we also know at the end of the day one of us is going to part ways." - Times-Picayune

June 17, 2014 - Derek Dimke discusses kicking competition
"I feel like I'm kicking well and I'm showing the coaches what I can do. These guys -- you know Shayne (Grham) T-Mo (punter Thomas Morestead) and Dres ( long snapper Justin Drescher) -- just like every other position group we are a close knit team and even though Shayne and I are competing against each other we are still good friends. We've trained together outside of here before. He's a good guy and its fun to be here with him.... Most people don't realize this. Shayne and I, we are going for the same spot but we don't go at each other in practice everyday. We are not a wide receiver and a DB going at each other. When he's out there practicing, it's him hitting his kicks. When I'm out there, it's me hitting my kicks. It has nothing to do with he or I." - Times-Picayune

May 20, 2014 - kicker John Carney elected to Saints Hall of Fame
"Carney spent all or part of eight seasons (2001-06, 09-10) with the Saints as part of a 23-year NFL career in which he became one of only three players in history to play in four decades and became one of seven players to score more than 2,000 career points. A product of Notre Dame, Carney connected on a franchise record 82.8 percent of his field-goal attempts as a Saint. His 168 field goals made, 203 attempts and 768 points scored all rank second in team history. Of the 471 placement attempts in Carney’s career as a Saint, perhaps his most famous was the game-winning field goal in the 2005 season opener against Carolina, 13 days after the region was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Coincidentally, an image of Brooks congratulating Carney after his game-winning kick graced the cover of the Sept. 19, 2005, issue of Sports Illustrated. Overall, Carney booted six game-winning field goals within the last 10 seconds of a contest since he joined the club in 2001." - Saints

May 11, 2014 - specialists invited to minicamp
Reports indicate that West Texas A&M kicker Sergio Castillo and Michigan long snapper Jareth Glanda have been invited to tryout at minicamp

April 22, 2014 - kicker competition
"Shayne Graham will have to impress the Saints as the team also carries 24-year-old Derek Dimke as Graham's chief kicking competition this offseason. It's one of the reasons why Graham is working harder than ever this offseason. 'I'm really just putting physically everything I can into it,' Graham said. 'In years past, I've always worked out and I've always kicked. This year, I've just kind of amped it up a little bit. I've been working with a training group out of Houston that works with a lot of pro football players -- linebackers, receivers, defensive backs, linemen - working out with all of the stuff that they're doing. I'm getting ready to pick up boxing training. Just stuff I've done other times in my life, but maybe I need to do a little bit more of everything right now. I'm 36 years old and I'm not getting any younger. Really physical is the biggest thing for me as far as a priority.' Graham, a career 85.5 percent field-goal kicker, added: 'The mental part, I've got the same routines I've been doing for years that have made me have good numbers. I continue to stick with the fundamentals and the psychological training that I give myself as far as my routines and my visualization and positive thought processes and all of that. That's not going to change. But it's really all about working as hard as I can and leaving it out and not having any regrets'." - NOLA

February 15, 2014 - kicker Shayne Graham re-signed
"Graham, a 13-year veteran who signed with the Saints on Dec. 18 after kicker Garrett Hartley was released, was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 11. Graham, 36, signed a new one-year contract for the 2014 season with a base salary of $955,000, according to the NFL Players Association website. He was 2-for-2 in the final two games of the regular season and connected on all four of his field-goal attempts in the Saints’ 26-24 wild-card playoff win against the Philadelphia Eagles. Graham hit from 36, 46, 35 and 32 yards out against the Eagles — with the last one coming on the final play of the game for the win. A week later, he missed from 45 and 47 yards in tough conditions in a 23-15 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round. Graham has converted 85.5 percent of his field-goal attempts during his career, making 247 of 289 tries in 157 games." - New Orleans Advocate

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