Shayne Graham Not Concerned About Anything But His Next Kick
By ZAC BOYER | firstname.lastname@example.org
ASHBURN – Shayne Graham has the third-highest percentage of made field goals in the history of the NFL, so a few misses here and there, especially at practice, aren’t about to get the former Virginia Tech standout all worked up.
Graham, brought in by the Redskins last week to challenge incumbent Graham Gano for kicking duties, didn’t have the best day Monday as the team began its kicking competition. Though both Graham and Gano had no trouble making kicks from the 20- and 30-yard lines with a tee – distances of approximately 37 and 47 yards – it was a different story when Nick Sundberg was snapping to punter Sav Rocca, the holder.
Gano made five of his six kicks, then went 2-for-3 during the organized scrimmage. Graham, on the other hand, made only two of the six kicks on the side field and made only one of three during the scrimmage.
“Part of it is I’ve got to get my rhythm,” Graham said. “I’m unhappy with missing a kick, but the last chance I had to go out and hit a long one, I hit it about as well as I’ve ever hit a ball, so that’s really all I could hope to do is get the opportunity to make up for that.”
Graham has made 85.95 percent of his field goals over a 10-year career, including a perfect 12-for-12 – and 2-for-2 in the postseason – last year for New England. He’s made over 80 percent of his attempts in all but three seasons.
“That’s why, when I miss one in practice, or I miss one in a game, I know I’m going to get more opportunities and I’m going to capitalize,” Graham said. “I’m not going to dwell over those and I’m not going to get upset and think, ‘Wow, I just missed that kick really bad. I suck.’ No, I know I’m a good kicker. I may have just missed that, but wait ‘til you see my next three. That’s how I feel about that. Even no matter what happens on any kick, every time I line up, I’m just thinking about not thinking, really. It’s an unconscious muscle memory-type action that I perform.”
Gano, meanwhile, was 28-for-39 in his second season, necessitating the challenge. Graham said the two aren’t trying to take it personally – coincidentally, they worked out together during the summer, before Graham signed with the Redskins – and want each other to do well.
Coach Mike Shanahan said pressure situations, such as the end of practice when each kicker was told the field goal was to win the game, will go a long way in evaluating their abilities.
“We’ll do that a number of times before we have to make our cuts, so we have to put them in pressure situations to see how each guy reacts,” Shanahan said.
Graham is confident, and constantly worrying about each miss is not something he plans to do.
“Really, I’m just thinking about my next practice here, my next kick here,” he said.