When the Redskins open the preseason Thursday in Buffalo, a number of players who are engaged in position battles will get their first chance to make an impression.Incumbent kicker Graham Gano is one of them.Through two weeks of training camp, Gano has acquitted himself well as he attempts to fend off Neil Rackers, the veteran signed this offseason to challenge him. Gano and Rackers both are unofficially 16 for 19 in the three head-to-head field goal competitions thus far.But, as Gano and special teams Coach Danny Smith conceded this week, practice means relatively little when determining which kicker makes the 53-man roster. It really will come down to what transpires during the teams four preseason contests, beginning with the Bills.Thats what separates everybody; its execution under pressure, Smith said Thursday in his first public comments since training camp began. Were going put them in those pressure situations and see who executes the best.Smith said his biggest challenge as a position coach will be to ensure that both Gano and Rackers get equal opportunity to show what they can do. To accomplish that, Smith said he plans to have the player who kicks a field goal or point after to also take the ensuing kickoff, as to simulate a normal game routine.On Thursday, Gano will go first if the Redskins kickoff to start the game, Smith said. If not, it will depend on which kicker finished the first half.By the end of the four exhibitions, Smith said it will be obvious to everyone which kicker has the edge.Its going to be on production, solely, Smith said.Gano would seem to have the advantage entering the preseason. At 25 years old, hes 10 years younger than Rackers. Hes got the stronger leg and is familiar to the coaching staff after spending the previous three seasons in Washington.That said, Gano connected on 75.6 percent of his field goals, which ranked 29th in the NFL. That number, of course, was negatively impacted by five blocked attempts.I met with the coaches and they said there wasnt anything I could do anything about it personally, Gano said of the blocks. You dont want blocks at all. But last year, thats the past.Smith declined to say what exactly went haywire on so many attempts in 2011. He did, however, concede that there was plenty of blame to be spread around, beginning with him.We had a lot of issues, to be honest, Smith said.If Gano is going to retain his job, Smith said he wants to see more consistency and focus.Day in and day out you got to do it, Smith said. Just because we do it for a couple years doesnt mean we have it. As a coach in this league, you get new coaches and they get their first contract and they think they arrived. I dont think they arrived until you get another contract. Its the same with a kicker.As for Gano, he said hes not feeling any additional pressure because he used to fighting for his job in camp.But he also said he likes his chances.Im feeling pretty good, Gano said. Im starting to hit my stride and Im looking forward to Thursday.
The Redskins announced the moves of two veterans to injured reserve and the signing of a veteran center. They also promoted a player from the practice squad.
They sent safety DeAngelo Hall and center Kory Lichtensteiger to injured reserve. Hall suffered a torn ACL on Sunday against the Giants and Lichtensteiger sustained a calf strain.
To take those spots on the roster, the Redskins signed veteran center John Sullivan and offensive lineman Vinston Painter was moved up from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.
Sullivan, was the Vikings’ starting center from 2009 through 2014. The 31-year-old missed all of 2015 with a back injury and the Vikings released him on August 30 of this year.
The Redskins claimed Painter off of waivers in August but released him when they cut down to 53 players. He was then signed to the practice squad.
Hall and Lichtensteiger are no strangers to injured reserve. It’s the second straight season Lichtensteiger has been on injured reserve. He suffered a neck and shoulder injury last year that had him on IR for eight weeks before he returned. Hall tore his Achilles in 2014 and spent the last 11 games on injured reserve.
Due to the new injured reserve rules, either player would be eligible to return to the roster after missing eight weeks. With the ACL injury that will not happen for Hall but if Lichtensteiger could return if the calf heals. The team does not have to designate anyone to return in advance but they can make only one such move during the season.
The Redskins may have a roster hole to fill at center and according to a report they are set to sign a veteran to do the job.
The Redskins are going to sign John Sullivan, who was the Vikings’ starting center from 2009 through 2014, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.
The 31-year-old Sullivan missed all of 2015 with a back injury and the Vikings released him on August 30 of this year.
Kory Lichtensteiger was placed on injured reserve due to a calf injury he sustained against the Giants on Sunday. Jay Gruden described Lichtensteiger’s situation as “week to week” during his press conference on Monday.
The Redskins will have to make a roster move when the do sign Sullivan, whether it’s Lichtensteiger to IR or something else.
If Lichtensteiger does go on injured reserve it will be the second consecutive year on the shelf for him. He suffered a neck and shoulder injury last year that had him on IR for eight weeks before he returned.
Due to the new injured reserve rules, Lichtensteiger would be eligible to return to the roster after missing eight weeks. The team does not have to designate anyone to return in advance but they can make only one such move during the season.