ASHBURN, Va. (CBSDC) — Washington Redskins kicker Graham Gano finds himself in familiar territory this offseason. 10 missed field goals last season have many scrutinizing him closely. And he’s also in another kicking competition — this time with veteran Neil Rackers.
But unlike last season, in which the strong-legged Florida State product successfully beat out Shayne Graham for the job in preseason, Gano is coming off an injury. He fractured two bones in his lower back while making a tackle against the Philadelphia Eagles in the final game of the season.
Perhaps thriving on competition, Gano showed no lingering effects of the injury in Thursday’s practice. Both he and Rackers successfully connected on all eight of their attempts, though the incumbent seemed to have more leg on his kicks.
“It’s funny breaking your back as a kicker,” Gano joked before saying he’s feeling pretty good now.
He started kicking on his own in April and with the team two weeks ago after missing the first team kicking session in practice. The Redskins have only practiced live kicks during a handful of practices this offseason, which is not uncommon.
The only injury limitation placed on Gano currently is that he’s not allowed to have any contact. However, he was quick to point out that the team shouldn’t really be having any contact right now anyway.
“So, I can do pretty much everything,” he said.
Five of Gano’s 10 misses last season were the result of blocked kicks, something Danny Smith and the special teams unit have been working to rectify.
Without the blocks, Gano connected on 31 of 36 field goal attempts for a solid 86 percent success rate.
In contrast, Rackers connected on 32 of 38 attempts for an 84 percent success rate without any blocks.
As for the blocks?
“We’re having a big emphasis on that,” Gano said.