As Saturday’s preseason game between the Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears approaches, Graham Gano and Neil Rackers hope to finally get their first in-game opportunity to compete for the Redskins’ place kicking job.
Gano, a fourth-year veteran, and Rackers, entering his 13th season, expected to get their first audition in last Thursday’s game at Buffalo. But the Redskins never attempted a field goal in the 7-6 victory.
The Redskins’ plan had been for Gano to handle the opening kickoff, the first field goal or extra point attempt and then the ensuing kickoff. Then Rackers was meant to go through the same scenario.
Washington received the opening kickoff, and on the third possession, Gano made his point-after attempt, then sent the kickoff 69 yards. The Bills recorded a 13-yard return. Rackers, meanwhile, only received one kickoff attempt, a 75-yarder that Buffalo returned 25 yards.
And so, the two must wait another week. Meanwhile, they continue to duke it out in practice. Wednesday, Gano rebounded from a 5-for-9 showing on Monday to go 5 for 5 with attempts coming from 30, 34, 37, 42 and 47 yards out. Rackers went 9 for 9 on Monday, but missed 2 of 5 attempts on Wednesday. He missed from 30 and 37 yards out.
Gano, who has spent the last three seasons with the Redskins, said he identified what hampered his efforts on Monday, and that he believes Wednesday’s effectiveness will carry over into Saturday’s game.
“For myself, I expect to be perfect. I expect to make all my kicks,” he said. “I’ve been training hard. I only got one kickoff, and one extra point last week, but they both felt really good, and I’m looking forward to getting more opportunities this week.”
Rackers — signed this offseason to compete with Gano — said that he too hopes for more opportunities, but said that he doesn’t allow the uncertainty to bother him. He will prepare as he always does, and let things fall into place.
“Graham and I have both had to control what we can control. We step onto the field and we just have to do what we do,” Rackers said. “We’ve kicked 10,000 balls in our life, why change anything now. We’ll control what we can control, and at the end of camp, they’ll let us know who they like. … I feel like I’ve hit the ball well, so we’ll just see how it goes.”