How the Redskins’ specialists pass downtime

August 5, 2013

John Potter stays behind to work on his form. (Sarah Kogod/The Washington Post)

Kickers, punters and long snappers have a lot of downtime during practices. They don’t kick every day, and they need to stay active on days that they don’t. Last week I noticed Nick Sundberg, Sav Rocca, Kai Forbath and newcomer John Potter kicking a football around in some sort of unusual game, and after practice they explained the rules to me.

The four players pick a spot to hit somewhere on the section of field they’re working on that day. The object is to get the football to that point using the least amount of kicks possible. Often the challenges include an obstacle to work with, like maneuvering around a training sled, or getting the ball through the opening of a discarded golf cart.

Because of the nature of the game, most kicks are low and short. Accuracy is key.

“It’s something we do to keep ourselves moving during practice, because we have a lot of down time,” Sundberg explained. “It keeps things interesting between us, and it keeps things competitive.”

Like golf, the player with the lowest number of kicks at the end of the day wins. The Redskins foursome places wagers on their game, and as of last week, Sundberg and Rocca each had one win apiece.

Kicker John Potter, left, examines the kicking shoe of his competition, Kai Forbath. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
Kicker John Potter, left, examines the kicking shoe of his competition, Kai Forbath. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

One of the challenges during Wednesday’s game was to hit a red padded cone, and at one point a debate broke out over whether Potter had hit the cone directly or his ball had bounced off of the tent behind it. It was determined that it played off of the tent, and a kick was added to Potter’s score.

After they finished their game and moved on, I noticed that Potter stayed behind and continued to kick at the cone, over and over.

“I’m sick of losing to those guys,” he told me after practice. “I lose over and over, so I come out here and practice on my own.”

When I told Rocca, Sundberg and Forbath about Potter’s extracurricular practicing, they found it hilarious.

“It’s more important for us to win on the field,” said Rocca, making sure we all know they take their jobs seriously. “But I can’t blame him. He’s lost quite a bit.”

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Dan Steinberg | August 5, 2013