Dave Rayner or Mike Nugent, who's it going to be? The competition between the two kickers to replace long time Bengals kicker Shayne Graham is officially on and there is already some added pressure. Before the team could leave the field today, the hottest day of the year so far, both kickers had to make their field goals. Rayner hit from 42 yards and Nugent split the uprights from 46 yards away. This made not only the players happy, but the coaches as well.
"Yeah, I'm happy they hit them. I'd say 90 guys are happy," said specials teams coach Darrin Simmons. "Yeah, you like. It's a competition. ... This won't be the last one."
Each kicker scored 100 percent today making each of their four tries. Rayner made his four from 27, 30, 38 and 42 and Nugent made his four from 30, 34, 42 and 46. That's some good kicking.
Shayne Graham may have been one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL and he may have been one of the most accurate Bengals kickers ever but the NFL is a very "what have you done for me lately" league and we can all remember what Graham did for us lately. It's no secret that Graham had a problem doing his job when he was under pressure.
It happened when the Bengals had a chance to make the playoffs in 2006 by beating the Steelers in the last game of the regular season. The score was 17-17 with just a few seconds left and Graham set up for the game winning field goal from 39 yards away. He missed wide right. I was there. I was heart broken. The game went into overtime, the Steelers won the toss and won the game. The playoff window shut.
It also happened in last years home playoff game against the Jets. Graham missed a couple field goals that would have given the Bengals a shot to win the game. I don't want to talk about it.... the wound is still fresh.
It's good to see the Bengals adding some pressure to the new kickers at this point. Hopefully, whoever wins the job will be immune to the kind of pressure that causes other kickers (cough Ginger cough) to choke.