Hall hoping to help 'Skins kicking game

Posted: Monday, August 04, 2003

ASHBURN, Va. John Hall hopes to change the awful history the Washington Redskins have had recently with their kickers.

Washington has gone through 11 kickers in regular-season games over the last eight years, and signed Hall in the offseason from the New York Jets to try to reverse that trend.

''I hear that a lot,'' Hall said. ''It guess it's just the way things have gone down around here. They've had some good kickers. You go through some problems with injuries, and the stability of the team gets a little off. You can't look too much into all that.''

Easy for him to say. He hasn't had to watch the team that relied for years on steady Mark Mosely and then Chip Lohmiller go through a mind-numbing procession of Eddie Murray (twice), Scott Blanton, Chris Jacke, David Akers, Cary Blanchard, Brett Conway (twice), Kris Heppner, Michael Husted, Scott Bentley, James Tuthill and Jose Cortez.

Determined to remedy the situation, owner Dan Snyder lured Hall with a five-year, $7.1 million contract. The investment is such that the team didn't even invite another kicker to camp to offer token competition.

Hall's strength does wonders for kickoffs, but his field-goal accuracy was average at best during his six years with the Jets. Still, his 74 percent success rate is better than the 68 percent by the Redskins' committee of kickers during the same period.

''He's going to miss some. He's going to make more,'' special teams coach Mike Stock said. ''He's not going to ride the miss. He's going to ride the make. He's not weak-hearted. He's not weak-minded.''

''He will uphold his end of the bargain, for sure.''


FOXBORO, Mass. The New England Patriots wanted to put the tight end back in their offense when they made Daniel Graham their first-round draft pick in 2002.

But Graham never became the regular contributor he was expected to be during an injury-plagued rookie season in which he injured his right shoulder in September.

Now, in his second camp, Graham appears to be living up to his potential.

''Graham's had a really good camp,'' coach Bill Belichick said. ''He didn't have a lot of participation in the passing camp and the minicamps, he was still limited a little bit from the offseason. But he was here and trained hard ... and spent a lot of time with the coaches in the offseason, reviewing his play last year and the playbook and that kind of thing. So he really hit the ground running in training camp.''


CHENEY, Wash. Seattle Seahawks free safety Damien Robinson will miss three-to-four weeks with a separated right shoulder.

Robinson, who played the last two seasons with the New York Jets, was injured during Saturday's scrimmage in Seattle when he made a low dive to break up a pass.

Rookie Ken Hamlin, who has been working with the starting defense at free safety and strong safety, will step in.

Reserve defensive tackle Norris McCleary will miss two-to-three weeks after elbow surgery.


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. James Hodgins, one of the best blocking backs in the NFL, knows he won't get many carries. He wouldn't mind expanding his role as a receiver, though.

The Arizona Cardinals seem to agree. Early in training camp, Jeff Blake caught the defense by surprise with a toss to the fullback in the flat. Hodgins turned it into a 20-yard scoring play.

''It's a big upgrade for us as a football team,'' running backs coach Johnny Roland said. ''He brings a lot to the table he's a good receiver, obviously he's a devastating blocker, and we're just going to try to involve him every way we can in terms of the offense.''

The Rams released Hodgins in the offseason. The Cardinals, who played three-quarters of last season with tight end Steve Bush starting at fullback, were quick to offer him a $1 million bonus as part of a $5 million, four-year contract that he signed March 12.

''The thing I was most concerned about was playing time,'' he said. ''Coming here from St. Louis, I wanted to get, you know, more than 20 plays a game and try to feel like part of the game. I told them I'd like to get some catches, and they told me they'd be able to do that.''


BETHLEHEM, Pa. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson selected N.D. Kalu as the team's starting right defensive end Sunday.

He will replace three-time Pro Bowler Hugh Douglas, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the offseason. Douglas had 12 1/2 sacks last season.

''He just penciled it in,'' Kalu said of Johnson's decision. ''I'm sure he has an eraser in the other hand. Hopefully, he doesn't use that eraser.''

Kalu, who came to the Eagles from the Washington Redskins two years ago, played in all 16 regular-season games last year for the first time in his six-year career. He finished with career highs in sacks (eight), tackles (30) and forced fumbles (two).


BOURBONNAIS, Ill. Coach Richard Dent needs no introduction, even if some of the players he's working with now were just youngsters when he was one of the NFL's great pass rushers.

His credentials are well-documented: Dent is fifth on the NFL's career quarterback sack list with 137 1/2, he holds the Bears' single-season record with 17 1/2 and he was the MVP of Chicago's only Super Bowl championship following the 1985 season.

Now, Dent is back on the practice fields at training camp with a different assignment as an assistant defensive line coach. His job is to convey his expertise to a younger generation.

Dent, hired in April, is working with players including young defensive ends Alex Brown, who is in his second season, and rookie first-round draft pick Michael Haynes.

''You always miss the locker room and the chatter. That's what you miss as a player, being with the guys and having fun,'' he said.

''This fills that void. Without a doubt.''


GREEN BAY, Wis. The Green Bay Packers signed tight end Luther Broughton on Sunday.

Broughton, a six-year NFL veteran, has played in 62 games with eight starts.

He was drafted by Philadelphia in 1997 and also has played for Carolina. In 1999 with the Eagles, he had 26 catches for 295 yards and four touchdowns. He was out of football during the 2002 season. The Packers also waived tight end Joey Knapp, who has a hamstring injury.


GEORGETOWN, Ky. The Cincinnati Bengals signed third-round draft pick Kelley Washington to a three-year contract Sunday.

Washington, a wide receiver from Tennessee, was the last of the Bengals' nine 2003 draft picks to sign.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Washington was sidelined by injuries for most of last season. He had 70 catches for the Volunteers in 2001 and is expected to join workouts Monday.


CARSON, Calif. David Boston missed his second straight training camp practice, resting a sore oblique muscle.

He had been briefly sidelined with a hip pointer earlier in the camp, but coach Marty Schottenheimer said it was unrelated to his current injury.

Boston, who signed a seven-year, $47 million contract with San Diego during the offseason, anticipated being back in a few days. He looked forward to Saturday's preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks.

''In the NFL things happen,'' Boston said. ''I'm just going to get better and get back out there and help the team.''

Boston was limited to eight games last season after he tore a tendon in his knee.

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