Solid punting no matter who wins the job
During the two decades that Coach Simmons has been coaching special teams, he has had the consistency of veteran punter Kevin Huber and veteran long snapper Clark Harris for the past 13 years. Unlike in the past, this camp will have an open competition for the punter and long snapper positions.
Simmons demands the best from his players and knows that the head-to-head competition will bring this out of them.
While talking to Dave Lapham on the “In the Trenches podcast,” Coach Simmons was asked what he anticipated the punting competition to be like during camp.
“I expect it to be highly contested. You know, Kevin has certainly, been somebody who has been with us for a long time. He is a big part of these runs that we have made down the playoff stretch. I do not think he punted as well down the stretch, and I think he would be the first to tell you that, and that is why we are even having this conversation. There were some signs that towards the end of the year, he has to punt better. It is not just about the holding part.”
Coach Simmons went on to say, “He is someone I certainly expect to be in full competition mode once we get to training camp; I handle this off-season differently than any other off-season than I have had with him. He punted less. Sometimes less is better, especially with him. I trust him wholly and completely that he will be ready to go, and he will put his best foot forward when training camp comes.”
Former Ohio State punter and challenger Drue Chrisman will have a considerable role in this contest. Hanging around most of the year on the practice squad, he was able to get his feet wet while learning the ropes of being in the NFL.
Unfortunately, Christman was injured and did not get to show his abilities in the preseason games last year, so these preseason games will be crucial in showing his capability during game-time pressures and situations.
This punting competition will be closer than most people believe. Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, who was at camp recently, had this to say:
“There weren’t a lot of booming punts, but first-year challenger Dru Chrisman outkicked veteran incumbent veteran Kevin Huber on Tuesday. Chrisman showed his improvement in directional punting and had some decent hang times while Huber didn’t get much length at all ….”
In the end, the experience of Huber and the young desire of Chrisman will make this a battle worth watching in the preseason.