Gano Impresses In Solo Workday

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The battle for the Ravens' next kicker is far, far, far from over, but kicker Graham Gano took advantage of a scheduled rest for Steve Hauschka on Monday morning.

He turned in a near-flawless showing, booting field goals of 20, 24, 36, 45, 47 and an impressive 53 yards.

What's more, the Ravens worked on special scenarios, and when Gano had to try two free kicks after a fair catch, he split the uprights from 56 yards on one. Gano shanked the other free kick badly.

"I've been feeling pretty good about the way I'm hitting the ball," Gano said. "It's a lot more solid. There are just a few things here and there that I have to clean up, but that will come. Our coaches have really helped me, and I learned a lot before I came here, too."

It seems like for every big day one of the kickers has, the next can be disappointing.

On Saturday, Gano was 6-for-6 on field goal attempts, while Hauschka was 4-of-6. The following day, Hauschka was perfect, while Gano pushed a 51-yarder to the right (he made up for it when he converted a mulligan).

That just goes to show how back-and-forth this competition has become. Ultimately, the job will be decided in preseason games, but for now, each kicker is trying to make their case in practice.

"This is going to be an interesting competition throughout this camp because both of these guys are very capable young NFL athletes," said special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. "They belong here, both of them do. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch this progress. When every kick matters in practice, it's a lot of fun to practice."

Gano knows how important consistency is. He said he had been challenged every year he was at Florida State.

The 6-foot-1, 192-pounder began as a punter and kickoff specialist, but he had to prove himself to earn the full-time kicking duties. It was made even more difficult when he tore the meniscus in his right knee two weeks before the start of his senior season.

The Seminoles used kicker Zach Hobby – a transfer to FSU that was a teammate of Joe Flacco's at Delaware – for two games before Gano made it nearly impossible for the team to keep him on the bench.

Gano went on to earn the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top placekicker, finishing first in the country for field goals made, percentage of field goals converted and 50-yard field goals made.

"I've been in a competition pretty much every year as Florida State," Gano said. "Zach had a heck of a leg, but it worked out. I always like competition because it makes you that much better. You just have to work that much harder."

Gano has not rested on his accomplishments.

After the Ravens signed him as an undrafted free agent, Rosburg said Gano needed to get past some self-taught techniques.

Now, Gano is constantly working on his accuracy by kicking a ball placed the baseline towards a perpendicular upright.

The bell-like sound of a football hitting metal is becoming more of a regular occurrence.

"Unless I'm hitting it every time, I'm not happy," Gano stated. "We use that upright drill for fundamentals. It's great to see if your leg swing is straight and smooth, if our plant foot is right. If the ball is sailing to the right, then we know why. It's the same thing if it's to the left."

While Rosburg offers ringing endorsements of both kickers, he cited Gano's athleticism as a positive trait.

"Graham Gano is a very athletic young man," said Rosburg. "He's very flexible. He's got spring in his step. If you watch him run around out here, he is a very athletic guy.

"He has great hand-eye coordination. In this case, foot-eye coordination – he's able to put his foot on the ball if it's not just right. He's just a really all-around good athlete."

That athleticism was tested last week. During the first two rookie-centered days of training camp, holder Sam Koch and long snapper Matt Katula were absent, which meant Bryan Mattison snapped the ball to a varied crew of holders on field goals.

"I was getting a lot of different holds and different snaps," Gano said with a laugh. "I think it's just whether the ball is on the right of the spot, the left of the spot or right on it, I can adjust to hit the ball well."

In addition, Gano said he was a former track and field athlete in high school and claims to have run a 4.5-second 40-yard dash in college. Gano needed his wheels when he chased down the speedy Lardarius Webb at the 10-yard line to end a long kickoff return on Saturday.

At the end of the day, however, a player can have all the athletic ability in the world and still not be able to convert field goals.

Gano's performance Monday certainly made for a good resume-booster. 

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