The Washington Post

Special teams coach Danny Smith confident in Graham Gano

Despite some inconsistencies in the kicking game for a second consecutive season, Washington Redskins special teams coach Danny Smith remains high on young kicker Graham Gano.

The Florida State product is about to complete his second full season with the team, and his contract will expire this offseason, making him a free agent.

Smith said no discussions have taken place regarding Gano’s future. But the coach praised Gano’s growth and potential.

“Graham’s a talented guy. He’s still a young guy, and he’s done some good things,” Smith said. “But we haven’t talked about that. The team of coaches, management, we’ll talk about that. But Graham’s a talented guy and a tireless worker. I expect good things out of him.”

Gano has excelled in the kickoff department for Washington, which boasts the top kickoff coverage unit in the NFC, and the second-best in the NFL.

As far as field goals go, Gano this season has made 30 of 39, with four of those attempts failing because of blocks. With injuries to various members of the field goal unit’s front line, the Redskins had to plug in new pieces, and that played a large role in the protection breakdowns.

After beating out competitors Shayne Graham and Clint Stitser while going 10 for 10 during the preseason, Gano missed a field goal in the season opener, had a field goal blocked the following week, and then in Week 3 had another blocked following a bobbled snap.

Gano went 5 for 5 in Washington’s next three games but then had another kick blocked in the seventh game.

Week 9 saw him make a franchise- and career-long 59-yard field goal. Gano closed out November by going 5 for 10 (and the line surrendered another block) over a three-week span.

But Gano & Co. have been at their best during the month of December, going 13 for 13.

“I feel like I’ve been doing pretty well,” Gano said. “I’ve missed five kicks that I definitely wish that I could’ve gotten back. … I wanted to hit 90 percent of my field goals. That’s something I always want to hit, and if you take away the blocks, I’m around 86 percent, so I’m fairly close to that. That’s a high goal and I like setting high goals for myself.”

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.


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