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Opportunity To Compete Enough For Veteran Neil Rackers

By ZAC BOYER | zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

ASHBURN – It hasn’t been difficult to spot Neil Rackers on the Washington Redskins’ practice field. He’s the only one wearing his game pants.

Rackers, who signed with the Redskins as a free agent after two years in Houston, is a man of timing and routine. While the rest of his teammates, including kicker Graham Gano and punter Sav Rocca, worked out in shorts during the organized offseason program, Rackers preferred both the comfort and mental reassurance of the white pants.

Whether he gets to wear them during the season is uncertain. Gano, 25, is entrenched as the Redskins’ kicker even after going 31-for-41 on field goals last fall, five of which were blocked. Rackers, 35, went 32-for-38 for the Texans last season and will be in training camp beginning the end of next month as veteran competition.

“I feel great,” Rackers said. “I’ve been hitting the ball strong. In Houston, I guess, I got the rap that I was getting weaker because of the Baltimore 50-yarder [in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs] that hit off the bottom bar, but I cut it. It doesn’t give you a weak leg. You didn’t make good ball contact. You know, I feel great. I’m hitting the ball well. My kickoffs are flying as deep as ever and I’m ready to go to work.”

Rackers has made 80 percent of his field goals over his 12 seasons, seven with Arizona, and was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2005 season, when he made all but two of his 42 field goal attempts and was 20-for-20 on extra points.

He wouldn’t explain the circumstances that led him to the Redskins this offseason, saying only “it was a weird year for free agency.” Rackers was open to a return to Houston, but did not say if the Texans offered him a contract; he signed a one-year, $990,000 contract with the Redskins on April 24.

“You know, the team that’s there right now is not the same team that was there last year,” Rackers said. “We felt like Washington is a team that’s coming up, they’ve got a lot of talent here and it was a good opportunity to win.”

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