Saints considering kicker change after crucial miss


METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints are considering yet another change at kicker after Zach Hocker's 30-yard field-goal miss in the final seconds of regulation nearly cost them a victory this past Sunday night.

The Saints are bringing in kickers for auditions -- a group that is expected to include recently-released NFL veterans Kai Forbath and Randy Bullock, according to a source.

It's possible the Saints are just updating their "ready list," which they also did with a round of kicker tryouts in Week 1. Either way, Hocker appears to be on a short leash after Payton left the door open for a possible change when asked about the tryouts Wednesday.

"We'll see how it unfolds," said Payton, who stressed that the entire "snap-hold-kick process" needs to be better after the Saints have now missed two field goals, had one extra point blocked and dropped the snap on one extra-point attempt this season. "And obviously [if] we get into a position like we did the other night, we've got to be able to make that type of field goal.

"And if not, then someone else is going to have a chance to."

Hocker's 30-yard attempt bounced off the left upright before the Saints went on to beat the Dallas Cowboys 26-20 in overtime. Hocker, who made his NFL debut with the Saints this year after being cut by the Washington Redskins last summer, is 7-of-9 on field-goal attempts.

Coincidentally, Hocker was beaten out by Forbath last summer in Washington. Then Forbath was replaced last month by kicker Dustin Hopkins -- who was beaten out by Hocker in New Orleans this summer.

The kicker position, in general, often comes with a revolving door. But that's been particularly true in New Orleans.

If the Saints bring in a new kicker, it will be their 10th since Payton arrived in 2006.

Since, the Saints have gone through John Carney (three different times), Billy Cundiff, Olindo Mare, Martin Gramatica, Taylor Mehlhaff, Garrett Hartley (also on-again, off-again), John Kasay, Shayne Graham and Hocker.

Meanwhile, the Saints found stability at punter when they drafted Thomas Morstead in 2009. But the former Pro Bowler is in danger of missing his first game in his seven-year career because of a strained quadriceps.

The Saints signed punter Brandon Fields as a contingency plan.

"I think with Thomas' injury, I think it's much sooner than later," Payton said. "Yet at the same time, we've got to be prepared in case we don't have him for this weekend."