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Chief's kicking game

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Chief's kicking game

Postby stomperrob » Wed Jul 04, 2007 2:58 pm

Sounds a little shaky, at least to start the season, unless they really gel in training camp.

Chiefs hope new kicking trio can get it together

By Dennis Dillon - SportingNews

So a new long snapper from Montreal, a rookie left-footed kicker from California and a somewhat nouveau holder from Tennessee meet on a football field.

This isn't the start of a bad joke. It's a description of the strangers who were thrust together to form the central nervous system in Kansas City's field goal unit. And if the Chiefs are to tally treys this season, long snapper J.P. Darche, kicker Justin Medlock and holder Dustin Colquitt had better keep bonding -- and relearning their roles.

Compatibility won't happen without a lot of repetition -- and probably a few hitches. Darche, a free-agent addition from the Seahawks, is replacing Kendall Gammon, who snapped seven years for the Chiefs. Medlock was a fifth-round draft pick out of UCLA. Colquitt, a third-year player who also is Kansas City's punter, now must be a mirror image of himself when he holds for placements to accommodate the left-footed Medlock.

"The challenges are going to be there," says Bills special teams coach Bobby April, noting the Chiefs' changes. "But they're not unconquerable."

For a while this spring, Colquitt worked both sides, like a switch hitter in baseball. He set up one way for Lawrence Tynes, a righty who was the Chiefs' kicker the past three years, then set up the opposite way for Medlock. Colquitt put down the ball with his left hand for Tynes and with his right hand for Medlock.

"The first week was one of the harder things athletically I've ever had to do," says Colquitt, whose father, Craig, was a punter and holder on two of the Steelers' Super Bowl champion teams.

The Chiefs became convinced it would be too taxing for Colquitt, who never had been a holder until the Chiefs drafted him in 2005, to continue working with both kickers in training camp. Special teams coach Mike Priefer had nothing against Tynes, who was signed as an undrafted rookie, but he really liked Medlock, who he believed was the most technically sound kicker in this year's draft.

Rookie fifth-round pick or former undrafted free agent? Hmmm. On May 22, Tynes was traded to the Giants.

Colquitt's job became less complicated, but he did get confused at least once. The first time the Chiefs attempted a field goal during team drills after Tynes was gone, Colquitt got down on his right knee. Realizing his mistake, he quickly hopped up and turned himself around.

During the Chiefs' offseason workouts, it has been routine for Darche and Colquitt to connect on as many as 100 snaps a day. In training camp, Colquitt also will use a JUGS machine so Darche doesn't wear down. Everything is done precisely, including the placement by Colquitt.

Persnickety might be too strong of a word to describe Medlock, but he does like the ball lined up a certain way: tilted slightly to the left -- think of the 10 on a clock -- with the laces facing toward Darche or turned a quarter to the right.

Darche, a French Canadian whose initials stand for Jean-Philippe, aptly sums up his and Colquitt's roles. "Obviously, our job is to make life easy for him."

That will help make the Chiefs' kicking game more successful -- and not the subject of a punch line.

Now appearing: The J.P., Dustin and Justin Show

The fortunes of the Chiefs' field goal unit rest in the hands -- and feet -- of this trio.

J.P. Darche

Resume: Was Seattle's long snapper for 102 consecutive games until a hip injury forced him to miss all but the season opener last season. Has a lot of postseason experience, including playing in Super Bowl 40.

Challenge: Never snapped for a left-footed kicker until now. Has had to adjust the rotation and direction of his snaps.

Dustin Colquitt

Resume: Still is developing as a holder. Also is the Chiefs' punter, which gives the team the rare duo of a port side punter and kicker.

Challenge: Must do everything the opposite way from what he was used to doing as a holder. Now kneels on his left knee, is training his left eye to be dominant, holds up his left hand and puts down the ball with his right hand.

Justin Medlock

Resume: Converted 28 of 32 field goal attempts for UCLA last season, including both tries of 50 yards or more. Is consistent in his mechanics: stepping, keeping head down and following through.

Challenge: Must make the big jump from college to the NFL -- with a snapper and holder who never have worked with a left-footed kicker.

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