ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — This was yet another kick-off that had very little return.
The Washington Redskins’ duel of the kicking Grahams, which was supposed to provide some special teams drama throughout the preseason, lasted all of one game thanks to a sudden wild streak from one of the most reliable veterans of all time.
Shayne Graham was cut by the Redskins on Sunday, two days after he shanked a 29-yard field goal attempt and also missed a 49-yarder in Friday’s 16-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The move leaves incumbent Graham Gano, who ranked last in field goal accuracy in the NFL last season, as the only kicker in training camp. Gano hit from 32, 34 and 45 yards against the Steelers.
“We haven’t solved our kicking issue,” special teams coach Danny Smith said. “He had a good game at 3 for 3 with a guy that wasn’t very productive. We made a decision to let that guy go. We did find out coming out of that game that Shayne Graham wasn’t the guy. We didn’t prove the point that we’re solid at kicker yet.”
Gano will continue to work by himself for now, although the team will keep an eye out for available unemployed kickers for the rest of preseason.
“It all depends who’s out there,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “Right now I don’t see anybody that’s out there that would really compete against him, but you never know what happens down the road. We’re always going to try to make it as competitive as we can.”
Graham would have been a good bet to win the job at the start of camp. His 86 percent field goal success rate makes him third most accurate kicker in NFL history, behind Nate Kaeding and Mike Vanderjagt. He went 12 for 12 last year, plus 2 for 2 in the playoffs, with New England.
But he never found his rhythm with the Redskins, spraying the ball right and left in his few days of practice. He got a late start because of the rule that kept veteran free agents off the field in the early days following the NFL lockout, and because holder Sav Rocca had to wait several days for a visa to return to the United States from Australia.
“I know that I’m better than I was today,” Graham said after Friday’s game. “I proved it for years, and I just didn’t do it today. … I’m trying to win a job, and it just didn’t go down the way I wanted it to.”
Gano was the epitome of a hit-or-miss commodity last year in his first full NFL season. He made only 24 of 35 field goal attempts for a 6-10 team that played a lot of close games – nine decided by three points or fewer. He made overtime game-winners against Green Bay, Tennessee and Jacksonville.
“I think mentally I have to stay positive,” Gano said. “I know I missed quite a few kicks last year, but I also hit a lot of big kicks, and that’s what I focus on, the three game-winners I hit.”
Gano said he also spent much of the offseason working on his leg speed. When told that, Smith was unimpressed.
“Tell Graham to stop talking about that (stuff) and make field goals,” Smith said. “That’s as simple as that. Graham wanted to decipher leg speed and this foot and that foot, and I’ve changed this and I’ve changed that. Tell Graham to shut up and just do what we’re coaching him to do and he’ll be better.”
© 2011 The Associated Press