Most would say that place kickers aren't "real" football players. Regardless, we can all agree that they do play an important role to the success of an overall team effort.
To be a successful place kicker you must have nerves of steel and have a consistent iron leg no matter the venue. Fans have little patience for an inconsistent place kicker.
In today's game, kickers are better than they used to be with league averages around 85 percent accuracy. Shaun Suisham had an 82 percent FG percentage career average until the '08 season.
In fact, he missed more FG's during the '08 season than all partial and full seasons combined. Here are some interesting statistics from 2008 to watch out for during the '09 season to see if he improves:
"Shank-a-potimus" Suisham was 26 for 36, the worst among kickers with more than 10 attempts, for a 72 percent FG pct. To be expected, eight out of the 10 missed were from beyond 40 yards.
What surprised me most was that he missed eight in the first half of games (16-for-24), seven at FedEx Field (9-for-16), and seven when the Redskins won the game (18-for-25)???
So, he only does well in the second half, at away games and when the Redskins are losing?
During the offseason, the Redskins picked up Dave Rayner to provide some competition at the position. Rayner has played for five teams in four seasons since being picked by Indianapolis in the sixth round of the 2005 draft out of Michigan State. His best season came with Green Bay in 2006, when he made 26 of 35 field goal attempts.
Last season, he spent two games on Cincinnati's roster while regular kicker Shayne Graham was injured. Rayner made his only field goal attempt with the Bengals, a 26-yarder. His career numbers are 42 for 59 for a 71 percent FG pct.
Suisham had no competition last year, which may have been a contributing factor in his preparation for the '08 season.
There is talk that each kicker will work full games during the preseason. This will give both kickers two complete games each to impress.
Expect Rayner to get cut based on his inability to impress five other teams and keep a job for more than a season. His lackluster performance statistically at the NFL level is also troubling compared to Suisham. By adding some competition, Suisham should get back into form and produce above an 80 percent FG pct at least for the '09 season.
Check out this article about kickers. Pretty interesting!