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Posted at 07:29 PM ET, 11/21/2011

Mike Shanahan: Graham Gano must improve

Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan directed a stern warning in the direction of kicker Graham Gano, who missed two field goals in Sunday’s 27-24 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys, including a potential game-winner from 52-yards out.

With the misses, Gano’s field goal percentage dipped to 66.7, tied for 30th in the league. It was the second straight week that the second-year pro has missed a pair of field goals, although on both misses at Miami, Gano was kicking into a stiff wind.

Wind wasn’t a factor against the Cowboys, however. Shanahan said Monday afternoon that Gano, who has made 16 of 24 field goals, with three of those attempts blocked, must do better.

“Like everybody, you have to perform and you hope he performs at a very high level,” the coach said. “He gets the opportunities, you want him to convert, and if you don’t take advantage of those opportunities, you don’t kick in the National Football League. We all know that. It’s a high-pressure job and you’re always hoping a guy comes through, and if you don’t come through, you lose your job, just like any other position.”

When asked if the Redskins would work out kickers Tuesday, Shanahan said: “No. First of all, there has to be people out there that you feel are better. People that you feel are consistent. We’re always looking at different people at all the positions in case we lose a kicker. It could be a hamstring, it could be to an injury, so we always have a list of people that we have on the charts that might be available in case we lose somebody.”

Asked directly if Gano would remain Washington’s kicker, Shanahan said, “Yeah, uh-huh. Unless we find somebody that we feel can help our football team win other than him.”

In the first half of the season, field goal accuracy had improved across the NFL, including on kicks of 50 yards or more.

Gano made 24 of 35 field goal attempts last season (68.6 percent, which ranked last in the league). But Shanahan continued to express confidence in the young kicker because of his strong leg and the promise he showed by making three overtime field goals during the 2010 campaign.

Shanahan did say Monday that despite Gano’s struggles, he has seen growth in the Florida State product.

“Obviously, Graham hasn’t been as consistent as you would like, and we’re hoping he improves in that area,” the coach said. “I thought he’s done a great job on his kickoffs overall. I thought he has some great leg strength. As you can see with that 59-yard field goal, he can make the long field goal. But you would like that consistency with a kicker and hopefully he gets better in that area.”

By  |  07:29 PM ET, 11/21/2011

 
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