Tim Sharp/Associated Press
The Eagles lost two of their last four games last season when issues in the kicking game reared their ugly head.
Against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 15, the team employed a strategy of kicking away from Cordarrelle Patterson on kickoffs, mostly because Alex Henery couldn’t boom the ball out of the end zone for touchbacks.
And versus the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the playoffs, Henery missed a 48-yard field goal badly in a 26-24 loss. In the words of Andy Reid, per ESPN's Rick Reilly: "We can all count. Those points would've helped."
At this stage, it’s hard to view Henery as an NFL kicker, and apparently the front office agreed. The Birds added competition in the form of Carey Spear, an undrafted free agent out of Vanderbilt.
Spear has gained some notoriety for the nickname “Murderleg,” which actually has more to do with his willingness to make a tackle than his leg strength. He can kick the heck out of the ball too, which would seemingly make him more useful than Henery right off the bat.
Early reports out of practice aren’t all promising, though. Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer notes one of Spear’s botched field-goal attempts was pretty horrific:
I’d hate to kill “Murderleg” after just one bad kick, but his pull hook of a chip shot field goal during 11 on 11s makes me wonder if he has any legit shot to push Alex Henery. It was always going to be a long shot for the undrafted rookie to unseat a three-year veteran, but he hasn’t done anything during the two practices I’ve witnessed that has made me go, ‘Wow.’ Last spring, when punter Donnie Jones starting booting sky-high punts, it was evident that undrafted rookie Brad Wing had no chance to win that job. Carey Spear deserves more time and the Eagles will surely give it to him, but the whole kicker competition seems like a façade right know. Spear’s field goal was from about 30 yards out. He hooked it at least ten yards wide left, missed the building that’s behind that field goal and sailed the ball into the parking lot.
In all honesty, it’s far too early to panic over one bad kick in practice. That being said, the fact of the matter is that it’s June and the Eagles are unsure of who their kicker is going to be this season. That doesn’t exactly instill confidence.
This is one of the few issues the Birds have that’s likely to be cleared up by the end of training camp, but there is no guarantee. Whether Henery or Spear wins the job, it won’t necessarily equate to the situation being resolved.