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Novak Says He Doesn't Mind Competition

By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 30, 2006

At one end of the locker room yesterday was Nick Novak, the place kicker who is fighting for his job after an inauspicious beginning to his second tour with the Washington Redskins. At the other was Shaun Suisham, the place kicker the Redskins signed to the practice squad Tuesday to push Novak and possibly replace him.

Novak signed Oct. 10 after John Hall was placed on injured reserve following a 19-3 loss to the New York Giants. Novak beat out free agents Todd Peterson, Tyler Jones and Jose Cortez, but has made just 5 of 10 field goal attempts this season and is only 1 of 3 between 30 and 39 yards. He made 1 of 2 attempts in Sunday's 17-13 win over Carolina. Coach Joe Gibbs also is upset by Novak's short kickoffs.

"How many kickers go through ups and downs? The ones that stick in the league are the ones who get through it," Novak said. "It's a business, and if you don't produce a little bit, the only right thing to do is to bring in a little competition."

Suisham was released on Oct. 31 by the San Francisco 49ers and played three games last season with the Dallas Cowboys.

"It's an opportunity to play. I'll take it one day at a time and let the coaches make their decision," Suisham said. "It had been three weeks since I'd been in San Francisco, so I was getting a little antsy, so I was excited to get the phone call. Thankfully, Washington called."

Gibbs said yesterday that Novak still was the starter, but that much would be determined this week.

"Having [Suisham] on the practice squad gives us something else to work with," Gibbs said. "Nick's the kicker until we decide something different."

Rising to Bugel's Challenge

After a 20-17 loss to Tampa Bay on Nov. 19, during which the Redskins ran the ball just 20 times, assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel challenged his linemen to stand up to Carolina's vaunted front four. The talk clearly worked, with the Redskins rushing 37 times for 143 yards.

"We have standards, and I let them know it," Bugel said. "When we looked at the tape, I said this is what our standard is all about. It's not about lip service. You have to get out and do it."

Ladell Betts rushed for 104 yards on 24 carries, and the Redskins appeared to find their long-lost identity.

"We went to the power stuff. We moved the line of scrimmage against a heck of a football team," Bugel said. "That's the commitment Joe made to the football team. It's still his team. He'll do what he wants to do."

Bumps and Bruises

Linebacker Khary Campbell, fullback Mike Sellers and right tackle Jon Jansen did not dress for practice. Campbell has a right hamstring strain, Sellers has a sore shoulder and Jansen a calf injury.

"It happened on the kickoff right after we took the lead on the touchdown," Campbell said of the 66-yard touchdown pass from Jason Campbell to Chris Cooley on Sunday. "If today were Sunday, it wouldn't happen, but it's been feeling better as the days have gone on."

Safety Troy Vincent and wide receiver David Patten also did not practice because of hamstring injuries. Neither played last week against Carolina. Patten has missed the last seven games.

Vincent to Speak With Vick

Vincent, who is the president of the NFL Players Association, said he plans to have a conversation with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who was fined $10,000 for making an obscene gesture at home against New Orleans last Sunday and whose team plays the Redskins this Sunday at FedEx Field. "Sometimes our emotions get the best of us. He's human. We don't want that in this sport," Vincent said. "There's no real place for it. I think he apologized, understood what he did wasn't right."

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