Kicking Competition: Graham vs. Graham

by Grant Paulsen

Graham Gano is going to have to battle for the place-kicking job he’s had for the past year.

On Monday afternoon, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan announced that his club will be signing veteran kicker Shayne Graham to compete with Gano for the right to handle the team’s place-kicking and kickoff duties.

“I know Shayne and I like him,” Gano said after ending Monday morning’s practice by drilling a 37-yard field goal with his teammates hopping up and down around him and air-horns going off behind him. “I welcome the competition.”

The older Graham is 33 and spent last season in both New York and New England, making all 12 of his field goal attempts. Before latching on with with the Giants and Patriots he spent training camp in Baltimore before getting cut in early September.

The third-most accurate kicker in league history, Graham will be battling for a roster spot with the NFL’s least accurate kicker in 2010. But while Gano connected on an NFL-low percentage of kicks, he did connect on three game-winners.

Being nine years younger than Graham will help Gano, but you the Redskins’ may not be extending their youth movement to the kicking game. Sav Rocca was signed as the team’s new punter last week. He’s 37 years-old.

A legitimate prospect with enough upside to be considered a commodity, the Redskins would ideally like to see Gano out-kick Graham. If he wins the job and posts an impressive 2011 season Washington might feel like they’ve solved a position that has been the antithesis of stable for the last decade.

But if Graham out-kicks Gano the Redskins, who have spent the past two weeks getting younger at as many positions as possible, will have a difficult decision to make.

More from Grant Paulsen

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