Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Injured Back Now Healed, Graham Gano Aims To Build On Last Year
ASHBURN – Graham Gano should have had an easy offseason – one in which he could spend time with his son, Bryson, born during the preseason, while working on his kicking.
Instead, Gano spent nearly three months rehabilitating a back injury he sustained in the Washington Redskins’ game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the last of the regular season, in early January.
“It’s funny,” Gano said Thursday, “breaking a back as a kicker. But yeah, it’s feeling pretty good.”
Gano was trying to get in position to make a tackle when his 36-yard field goal attempt was blocked in the second quarter of the Jan. 1 game at Philadelphia. He was shoved from behind by Eagles defensive end Jason Babin and mentioned experiencing pain after the game, with a bulging ice bag strapped to his back.
No surgery was required, however, and Gano was back to kicking in April, trying to follow up on a season in which he went 31-for-41 on field goals – five of which were blocked.
A restricted free agent, the Redskins exercised their option on Gano’s contract, officially announcing in February they would be bringing him back for a fourth season.
“It was, I think, 86 percent last year [without the blocked attempts], so I’m looking to improve upon that this year and just keep improving, keep getting better and build upon the success that I had last year,” Gano said.
The Redskins signed veteran Shayne Graham last year to compete with Gano through training camp, but Graham struggled in the preseason and Gano won the kicking job fairly easily.
This year, the team brought in Neil Rackers, a 12-year veteran who was one of the more reliable kickers over seven years in Arizona before spending the last two in Houston.
Gano said the two have built a good relationship and have been able to learn from each other this offseason.
“I know he’s a good kicker, but then again, I know I’m a good kicker as well,” said Gano, who said he made all 24 of his field goal tries during a three-week voluntary practice session that ended last week. “I had a good year last year, so I feel good about what I’ve been doing.”