posted on September 25, 2012 10:53
It used to be that NFL teams would recycle, rehash and reuse kickers and punters well into their late 30s and 40s. Morten Andersen and Sean Landeta made a living kicking and punting for 24 and 22 years, respectively.
But the times have changed and now it's a rookie kicker and punter's world, we're all just living in it. Okay; that's a stretch. But there are quite a few rookies - eight to be exact - who are kicking or punting for their team.
The Rams' Greg Zuerlein is fourth in the NFL with 8 field goals, and first amongst all rookies. Here's how it looks ...
Greg Zuerlein - St. Louis Rams (Drafted from Missouri Western, Round 6, pick 1 (171))
Greg the Leg has hit on all eight of his field goal attempts, which included a 56 yard bomb in Chicago in Week 3. He's 4/4 on extra points. According to Rams coaches, when Zuerlein kicks the ball, it makes a different sound than with any other kicker.
Given the Rams' offensive ineptitude over the last five seasons, Zuerlein has become both an integral and exciting part of the Rams quest to score points.
Justin Tucker - Baltimore Ravens (Undrafted out of Texas)
Tucker is a perfect 7-for-7 with a long of 56 yards. He's also a perfect 11/11 in extra points. Tucker's arrival on the Ravens scene signaled the end of the Billy Cundiff era in Baltimore. Cundiff moved on to Washington to replace Graham Gano after Gano thought he won the Redskins job by outlasting Neil Rackers.
Blair Walsh - Minnesota Vikings (Drafted from Georgia, Round 6, pick 5 (175))
Like Tucker, Blair Walsh has connected on 7/7 field goals with long of 55. He's also 7/7 XP. He is the most successful Vikings player with the last name Walsh since wide receiver Chris Walsh hauled in 18 receptions for the Vikings' '98 juggernaut offense.
Justin Medlock - Carolina Panthers (Undrafted out of Canadian Football League)
Medlock has only attempted one field goal in 2012, a 21-yard try that he successfully converted. He's 7/7 on extra points.
DON'T FORGET THE ROOKIE PUNTERS
Bryan Anger, Jacksonville Jaguars (Drafted from California, Round 3, pick 7 (70))
Anger leads the NFL with 19 punts for 1,005 yards. He's second behind Thomas Morstead of the Saints with a 52.9 AVG and 44.1 NET. Ladies and gentlemen, for proof of how much New Orleans is struggling, look no further than being lumped together with Jacksonville when it comes to punting.
Hopefully Anger doesn't chop his leg in half like former Jags' punter Chris Hanson.
Brad Nortman, Carolina Panthers (Drafted from Wisconsin, Round 6, pick 37 (207))
Nortman has the third worst punting AVG at 42.5. He also had a punt blocked in the season opening loss to the Buccaneers. Welcome to the NFL, rookie punter.
Johnny Hekker, St. Louis Rams (Undrafted from Oregon State)
Hekker is 10th in the league with a 48.8 AVG. More impressive than any punting stat, however, is the fact that Hekker looks eerily similar to Steven Jackson according to Fox's Week 2 broadcast.
Drew Butler, Pittsburgh Steelers (Undrafted from Georgia)
Butler is 30th in the NFL in punting AVG - 41.4. In the old NFL days of kicking the kickers to the curb, he'd be released following the Steelers loss at the Raiders simply because someone has to take the blame.