The series now turns to the special teams as we near the end of the positional reviews. Today we focus on the kicker and punter positions.
Rob Bironas – Before the 2007 season started I don’t believe anyone could have foreseen Bironas would have a Pro Bowl season. I was a little apprehensive after he missed two PATs in 2005 and I don’t recall a bad snap or poor hold on either of them. I have no idea why Bironas’ consistency improved but I’m not complaining.
Bironas is going to be tendered as a restricted free agent and the Titans are talking with his agent about a new contract. Don’t get upset when the Titans bring in another kicker to “compete” with Bironas this summer. It’s simply a way of saving his leg a little, which is important, especially for a kicker with his leg strength.
Bironas is the proud owner of two records — the franchise record for his 60-yard field goal which beat the Colts and the NFL record of eight field goals in a game. It’s a no-brainer to predict that he’ll kick one longer than 60 yards before anyone kicks nine field goals in a game. It’s also important to note that his deep kickoffs usually result in good field position for the defense when they take the field after a Titans’ score.
|Rob Bironas||FGs||FGA||Pct.||Lng||XPM||XPA||KO Avg|
Craig Hentrich – His stats are still good but he’ll also have some company in training camp, and it will be more of a real competition in his case. He’s the oldest Titan, along with Kevin Mawae, at 36 years old, and I don’t know how much gas he has left in the tank. Hentrich has been bothered with back problems the last few years and missed a game last year.
Craig has been a valuable member of the team for many years and it goes beyond his punting. He’s also the holder, the backup kicker and the emergency quarterback. He’s done a hell of a job getting the occasional bad snap down, he’s performed well when called upon to kick, and although we thankfully haven’t seen him as the emergency quarterback, he does pass out of punt formation from time to time. It will be sad to see him go, and although it might not be this year, it should happen soon. Craig and Benji Olson are the only two remaining Titans who were Tennessee Oilers.
Even though he’s getting older, Hentrich’s stats haven’t declined much. Is it just my own perception that his skills are declining? I think he can still do the job for another year. He is an outstandng athlete and his golf handicap is in the low single digits, if he’s not scratch. I know I’d be embarrassed to play golf with him.
|Craig Hentrich||Punts||G Avg||N Avg||Lng||In 20||TB||FC||Ret|
Josh Miller – He filled in for Hentrich one game and punted three times for a 40.3-yard average, with a long punt of 52 yards and one inside the twenty.
Next: We’ll conclude the series of positional reviews with the return units and coverage units.