Miami Dolphins' Most Intriguing Training Camp Battles—No. 3: Placekicker
To say the battle between Jay Feely and Dan Carpenter intrigues me isn't really accurate. Rather, it worries me! It worries me because of the fact that it's even a battle at all.
As laughable as it is now, I actually had to defend replacing Olindo Mare with Jay Feely to Dolphins fans last offseason. As we all know, Feely was outstanding last season, setting the Dolphins' single-season field goal percentage record at 91.3. Meanwhile, Mare was horrible beyond words (though not beyond numbers, like 58.8 percent)!
Despite Feely's fantastic performance last season, it seems that Parcells doesn't take his outspoken nature in the media kindly. I, for one, could not care less. If my kicker performs like Feely did last year, he can go on profanity-laden tirades daily. But Parcells does not agree, and he's exerting his authority over arguably the Dolphins' 2007 season MVP.
Admittedly, Feely is not that strong on kickoffs and that is another reason for this competition. In 2007, he ranked 31st in the NFL in kickoff average and 15th in touchbacks. (Note: numbers exclude players with fewer than 10 kickoffs.) That being said, 90+ percent field goal kickers are hard to find, and it's a trade-off I'm willing to make.
With Dave Rayner having been released, the lone challenger is an undrafted free agent Dan Carpenter. Carpenter has a hell of a leg with career-long field goals of 54-yards at University of Montana. He progressed each of his four years in terms of field goal percentage, from 62.1 as a freshman, to 66.7 as a sophomore, to 80.0 a a junior, and to 82.6 as a senior. He also handled full-time punting duties his junior year.
The position(s): Placekicker
Number of spots: One
Contenders: Jay Feely, Dan Carpenter
Predicted winner(s): Feely
Reason: Kickoff struggles or no, Feely was just too good last season to be cut loose. Carpenter would have to blow him away in camp to earn the job, and that just does not seem likely. Carpenter would be a strong kickoff specialist, but I've never been a big fan of using two roster spots on kickers. If it's all that important, why not just have punter Brandon Fields, who also has a great leg, work at it?
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