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Week 3 in the NFL

No Time to Punt This One Away

September 24, 2006|Sam Farmer

The Atlanta Falcons are trying an old solution to a new problem.

Forced to address their kicking situation after Michael Koenen, who kicks and punts, missed four field-goal attempts against Tampa Bay last Sunday, the Falcons signed 46-year-old kicker Morten Andersen.

Andersen, who probably will play Monday at New Orleans, is 77 points shy of the NFL's all-time scoring record, held by Gary Anderson.

"I'd be lying if I didn't say that was a motivating factor," said Andersen, who stands to become the second-oldest player to appear in an NFL game.

In using one player to handle all of the kicking and punting, the Falcons were attempting something that hadn't been tried since Frank Corral pulled triple duty for the Los Angeles Rams in 1981. The experiment lasted two weeks this time. Koenen will continue to do the punting and will be available for long-range field goals.

Andersen, meanwhile, had been lobbying Falcons Coach Jim Mora for this opportunity.

"I think he was getting tired of me calling him," he said. "But I called everybody. I called Tony Dungy last week when [Adam] Vinatieri tweaked his ankle. We're talking about being desperate here. Here's a guy that has two Super Bowl-[winning] kicks, and I'm calling the Colts going, 'Yeah, yeah, I can do that.' "

Foster Freeze-Out

The Carolina Panthers aren't shuffling their depth chart at tailback, but that doesn't mean the No. 1 and No. 2 running backs are clearly defined.

DeShaun Foster, the former UCLA standout, probably will retain his job as the starting tailback, although rookie DeAngelo Williams is widely regarded as more of a big-play threat. Everything points to Williams' eventually taking over the top job.

A Real Spin Move

Tampa Bay is 0-2, and things aren't looking too good for the Buccaneers. But defensive end Simeon Rice has found a, well, pewter lining. He says his team is in the driver's seat, in prime position to prove all the skeptics wrong.

"How many cats are going to be able to come out 0-2 and flourish, and still walk with a bounce and still believe in themselves?" Rice asked. "And still come out with confidence? And still look at themselves in the mirror after a hard game, and hear all the comments and people saying this and that about you, and be able to say you're going to come out and still be dominant? And believe in yourself?"

A Foot Feat

Dallas has its share of problems and shortcomings. Punting is not one of them.

Cowboys punter Mat McBriar leads the NFL with a 50.8-yard average and has done some great work when it comes to putting his team in prime field position. Three of his punts have surpassed the 60-yard mark.

"I think he's doing an outstanding job right now," Coach Bill Parcells said. "I haven't looked at the stats in the league, but I think you would be hard-pressed to find anybody better."

False Start

Shawn Springs, Washington's best cornerback, practiced Wednesday for the first time in more than a month. Then, he encountered another setback: He left the field because of a strained groin. This after coming almost all the way back from abdominal surgery in August. Springs had hoped to play today at Houston. Now he's hoping to be back next week, but there's no guarantee he'll be ready.

"Shawn is really disappointed and we're really disappointed," Bubba Tyer, the Redskins' director of sports medicine, told reporters. "He's worked so hard, and we were all really in the tank yesterday when this happened, and we still are today to some degree. He did so much running with us and what he did yesterday was hardly anything. So we're working to get him back up and running again."

Helpful Advice

Giants coaches are concerned about the team's ability to defend against hurry-up offenses, something New York didn't do particularly well against its first two opponents. That prompted some typical candor from Giants defensive end Michael Strahan.

"Teams are going to do it, and until we prove we can go out and stop it," he said, "I would do it too."

-- Sam Farmer

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