Half a year had passed since Chris Mohr last punted a ball under anything approximating game conditions, and he spent the spring and summer working out only sporadically. After 16 seasons in the NFL, even Mohr believed his career was dead, but that was before Thursday night.
The Washington Redskins signed Mohr, 39, on Monday, he practiced once with them on Tuesday and then took every punt but the final three in their preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium, showing enough leg to perhaps win the starting job.
The Redskins lost Tom Tupa to a freakish back injury and placed him on injured reserve, ending his season. Impressive rookie Andy Groom remains on the roster, but has never punted in a regular season game, and Coach Joe Gibbs covets experience in his specialists.
"We're going to have to work our way through that," Gibbs said of the punting decision. "It's going to be a big topic of discussion. We've got Chris here with a short work week, so we've got to do a real good job of evaluating that."
Groom, 25, was cut in past training camps by San Francisco and Tampa Bay, but has performed well for the Redskins (including punts of 41, 48 and 49 yards Thursday). Mohr averaged 40.2 yards on his six punts and handled the holding duties on the field goal unit as well -- he has worked previously with long snapper Ethan Albright. Mohr seemed more at ease with his punts as the game unfolded and the rust wore off.
His first punt was a weak 33-yard attempt, but he routinely ripped off punts of 40 yards or longer throughout the game, was poised when having to punt out of his end zone, and on several occasions put enough loft under the ball to allow for good hang time and force the Ravens to fair catch.
A penalty negated one 43-yard punt, with Mohr standing deep in the end zone, and he produced a nearly identical 42-yard kick on the ensuing play. In all, he had punts of 33, 42, 42, 42, 39, 43 -- showing great consistency if nothing else.
His hold for John Hall's 28-yard field goal in the first half was true, while Groom held for Hall's game-tying, 46-yard field goal as regulation time expired.
After so many years of doing this for a living, it did not take long for the routine to come back. Mohr figured he was out of the game after being released by Atlanta in March.
He had spent four years with the Falcons, and a decade with the Buffalo Bills before that, and has missed just one game since 1991.
Mohr has appeared in 239 regular season games, fumbling just twice in 1,152 kicks.
Mohr has also handled kickoff duties throughout his career, and that experience and versatility could bode well for his chances of still being in Washington when final cuts are made Saturday afternoon.
Groom handled his situation with aplomb as well. He boomed every punt, allowing the Redskins to negate any sort of sizeable return, and was visibly excited after Hall's kick tied the game. Groom was an all-American at Ohio State -- Tupa also attended that school and was at least partly responsible for the Redskins bringing him into camp -- and Groom may end up getting the job his mentor seemed assured of a few weeks ago.