Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL [Print without images]

Monday, August 7, 2006
Redskins need Hall to be healthy _ and accurate

Associated Press

ASHBURN, Va. -- After going 1-for-3 in a scrimmage in which there was no one rushing to try to block the kicks, John Hall got a vote of confidence from the Washington Redskins' coaches.

Maybe it was because he made it through the day without getting hurt.

Hall was wide left from 47 and 46 yards Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens, giving early pause to fans who wonder why the coaching staff didn't invite stronger competition to training camp for the kicker who has struggled with injuries the last two years.

"One-for-three ain't good enough," special teams coach Danny Smith said. "But I love the guy and I think he'll have a great year."

Hall salvaged something from the day by making a 38-yarder on his last attempt. Smith hadn't planned to let Hall try three field goals, but the coach didn't want the kicker starting preseason play with a goose egg.

"Obviously you don't want to go 1-for-3," Hall said. "But I made my last one, and I'm moving on. Guys miss field goals. It's no big deal. I hit them all solid. That's why we're out here, we're working on things. It's nothing to get your undies in a bundle about."

Hall was supposed to solve the Redskins kicking problems once and for all when he was signed as a free agent from the New York Jets in 2003. He lived up to his billing during his first season, making 25 of 33 attempts with a long of 55 yards.

But Hall had four different leg injuries over a three-month span in 2004, limiting him to eight games and again forcing the Redskins to scrounge for midseason kicking help.

Another leg injury caused Hall to miss six games last year, and he wasn't 100 percent after he returned. His longest field goal in 2005 was only 43 yards.

Yet the Redskins, big spenders on offense and defense in free agency, opted to pinch their pennies on special teams and keep their faith in Hall. He has only token competition at camp from former Boise State kicker Tyler Jones, who spent the spring in NFL Europe.

"I don't have much to be concerned with John," coach Joe Gibbs said. "We've had the (injuries) and everything the last couple of years. He's an extremely hard worker. In fact, the main thing we've got to try to do is back him off. You never want to miss field goals -- don't get me wrong -- but we have a lot of confidence in him."

Gibbs frequently talks about getting Hall to ease up, but Hall approaches his craft with the intensity of a linebacker. Hall said he did little to alter his offseason training regimen.

"I pretty much did the same stuff," Hall said. "I added some yoga to it, just to try to get more flexible again."

Ideally, the Redskins would like use Hall only as a place-kicker and let someone else handle kickoffs, which require a more violent leg motion that could lead to injuries. The obvious candidate would be the punter, a position being contested by incumbent Derrick Frost and David Lonie.

Lonie is an interesting story, an extreme sports enthusiast from Australia trying to break into the NFL at age 27. Given Frost's inconsistency last season, Lonie entered camp with a decent shot at making the roster, but he shanked one punt out of bounds during Saturday's scrimmage and was clearly bested by Frost.

Smith said Lonie will get chances at redemption in the upcoming exhibition games.

"There's a lot of guys in this league that can carry things out until they get into a situation where they have to execute under pressure," Smith said. "That's what we've got improve on with him. He's got to execute under pressure."