Coming out of their bye week, the Cincinnati Bengals certainly look like a team that is having a midseason competition for their punting position. After a preseason battle, the Bengals went with long time starter Kevin Huber, but a less than stellar first half of the 2022 season appears to have special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons weighing his options.
At the beginning of Monday’s practice, second-year punter Drue Chrisman was taking the first reps with the special teams unit. While Chrisman didn’t do anything to separate himself from Huber in the preseason, it wasn’t exactly a lopsided battle. With Huber’s less than impressive start to the season, the bye week seems like the perfect time to open the competition back up.
When speaking to the media after practice, Chrisman seemed more than prepared for the challenge.
“Every week I prepare like I’m going to start because you never know. Look at Cal,” Chrisman said, via Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “In week one he didn’t know he was going to be starting week two. You have to be ready with any decision they make.”
Actually, Chrisman told Hobson that losing the job in the preseason forced him to tweak some things about his approach in order to improve. So not only is Chrisman ready for this battle, it seems he has learned from the last one.
“I was able to tweak some things, change up some things. I shortened up my steps. I was getting a little long in the preseason. Getting long doesn’t necessarily mean getting longer and higher punts. Usually more compact is better as you explode off the ground a lit bit.”
Huber is the definition of home-grown talent. After attending high school at Archbishop McNicholas, Huber went to the University of Cincinnati before winding up a Bengal. While the city loves Huber and his story, a playoff push is upon the Bengals and they have to go with the best man for the job.
It appears a change could come as soon as Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, so we will keep an eye on the practice reps leading up to the game.