Brett Conway celebrated his triumph in the Washington Redskins' three-way place-kicking competition by missing two of four field goal attempts in last week's preseason finale. But as he prepares to enter his first season as an NFL kicker, he says his confidence isn't suffering.
"I missed them by a total of four inches," said Conway, who nudged field goal tries of 45 and 46 yards wide right in a last-minute loss to Tampa Bay eight days ago. "I missed one by three inches, and the other one by one inch. That is disheartening, but it doesn't shatter my confidence. Those are kicks that I'm going to make eight or nine times out of 10. Both of those kicks would have been good from 60 yards. I crushed them."
The Redskins, who went through three kickers last season, released veteran Cary Blanchard and rookie Jeff Hall, their sixth-round selection in April's college draft, after Conway beat them out in training camp. Conway, 24, has so much ability that the Green Bay Packers used a third-round draft choice on him in 1997, but he's untested under the pressure of the regular season.
He spent the '97 season on Green Bay's injured reserve list, and didn't appear in a regular season game until Week 11 last season. The Redskins signed him to serve as a kickoff specialist while Blanchard handled the field goal and extra-point duties. Now Conway gets the entire package following a training camp in which he usually demonstrated accuracy as well as a strong leg.
"I used the whole preseason not just to win the job, but to get better," he said. "I've been ready to kick in this league for a while. But I think I'm continuing to get better, and I want to get better as the season goes along."
Roster Roulette The Redskins placed cornerback Tito Paul, defensive tackle Barron Tanner, tackle Jamie Brown and injured fullback Larry Bowie on their inactive list for Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Coach Norv Turner had some more difficult than usual decisions to make regarding the inactive list because everyone on the roster except Bowie is healthy. The biggest surprise is Brown, a free agent signee during the offseason who is rookie Jon Jansen's backup at right tackle. The Redskins will have only one reserve tackle, Kipp Vickers, on the active roster Sunday, although backup guard Brad Badger began last season as the team's starting left tackle.
Brown, who made five starts for San Francisco last season, took the move in stride, saying: "It's a blessing just to be part of this team."
The Redskins must place four more players on the inactive list Sunday.