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Bengals sign new punter; waive WR Jake Kumerow

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Kumerow has been unlucky with injuries, including a current ankle injury suffered on the first day of training camp.

Indianapolis Colts v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals on Wednesday signed free agent punter Will Monday and released third year wide receiver Jake Kumerow.

Monday (6’4”, 210 pounds), a first-year player, originally signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a college free agent out of Duke in 2016. The Steelers waived him after their third preseason game last year. On May 9, he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs; but the Chiefs waived him on July 6.

With the Steelers in the 2016 preseason, Monday had 11 punts for 471 yards (42.8-yard average), one inside-20 and no touchbacks, with a net average of 38.5.

Kumerow was released under the category of Waived/Injured. He suffered an ankle injury on Day 1 of training camp and hasn’t practiced since. If he clears waivers tomorrow, he will revert to the Bengals’ Reserve/Injured list.

Kumerow, a fan-favorite since joining the Bengals in 2015 had virtually no chance at making the 53-man roster this year among a crowded wide receiver group. The Bengals have A.J. Green, Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, Cody Core, John Ross, Josh Malone and Alex Erickson all on the roster ahead of him. Kumerow has spent the last two years on the practice squad and if the Bengals chose to keep him on Injured/Reserve all year—assuming he clears waivers—he could have another shot at making an unlikely impact and paving a path for himself onto the roster in 2018.

As for Monday, he was a four-time All-ACC selection in college and a four-time Academic All-ACC selection, too. He led the ACC in gross punting average as a true freshman (44.6 yards per kick), and averaged 42.7 yards per punt with 21 kicks inside the 20-yard line as a sophomore. In his junior year he had a 43.0 gross average, with 17 punts inside the 20 and 21 fair catches. In his final year at Duke he had a 43.5 gross average, 31 punts inside the 20 and 20 fair catches. He had three kicks of more than 70 yards during his career, and never had a blocked punt.

Here’s an excerpt from his NFL.com Draft profile:

STRENGTHS

Successful run as a four-year punter. Will flash power in his right leg. One of the best in the business this season at killing punts inside the 20 yard line at 46.7 percent. Quick 1.75 second snap-­to­-punt time. Soft, confident hands. Allowed mind­-boggling 80 return yards total over last two seasons.

WEAKNESSES

Hang time needs to improve. Saw some inconsistency with the way he struck the ball in 2015. Would like to see more leg from him on a consistent basis.

BOTTOM LINE

Long­-limbed punter who showed off more consistent power in his foot earlier in his career than later. Monday can get the ball out quickly and has improved with consistency of his hang time and has an outside shot of being taken on Day 3.

With the Bengals signing a punter, you have to wonder if the team isn’t happy with Kevin Huber’s training camp performance. Huber, who is entering his ninth season in the NFL, all spent with the Bengals had a down season in 2016 but hasn’t been discussed as an issue this offseason.

The Bengals may just be trying to push him to improve in the coming weeks, may want an extra punting body for the preseason, or truly may be adding competition at the punter position, which is something we’ve rarely seen. Huber has been the undisputed punter in Cincinnati for quite a while.

It’ll be interesting to see if Monday suits up when the Bengals take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday night at Paul Brown Stadium.


UPDATE: Kumerow has cleared waivers and was place on the Bengals’ Injured/Reserve list.