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Robert Malone vs. Ryan Quigley: So Far, So Good

Posted Aug 6, 2013

Punters very rarely find themselves on the front page of newspapers or at the center of any controversial debate. It is a humble existence and one that is not always appreciated by those who view things from the outside looking in.

As the two headliners at quarterback entertain the masses on one side of the practice field, veteran Robert Malone and untested first-year man Ryan Quigley go about their business under a veil of perceived irrelevance.

Snap after snap, kick after kick, the two men fighting for the punter position exemplify the mantra that “practice makes perfect." Every few practices they are called on to showcase the skills they have worked tirelessly to perfect, punting to a rotation of prospective returners in front of the coaching staff.

Nearly two weeks into camp both punters remain confident about the ongoing battle.

“I think it’s going well. My ball striking has been consistent this year,” Malone said. “I’m feeling very confident in the way things are going. I’ve been able to hit the ball really well and hopefully will continue it.”

“So far so good. It’s a competition," Quigley agreed. "We’ve been getting pretty equal reps and that’s all you can ask for. For a guy like me coming in, you just want to be given a look and I feel like I’ve been given that and I’m thankful.”

A punter's job may seem simple — catch the ball and kick the ball, right? But they, like quarterbacks, have different styles that make them unique and effective in particular situations.

“I think we're two very different types of punters.” Quigley said. Malone "has a very big leg, he’s consistent and he’s been around for a while. I think my thing is directional and more hang time.”

Malone shared similar sentiments about the differences between himself and his training camp opponent.

“We definitely have two different types of games,” he said. “I’m more of a hang-time guy, but he can hit a big ball, too. But he likes to directional-punt a little more than I do.”

Both were given a chance to punt in a game-like scenario during the Jets' annual Green & White Scrimmage on a breezy Saturday evening in Cortland.

“I felt pretty good. It was a pretty windy day, so you don’t want to make the big mistakes,” Quigley assessed. “I felt like I put the ball where it needed to be. Malone dropped some bombs out there so I just need to keep up, stay consistent, stay within myself and do what I do.”

Robert Malone was enthused about the change of pace during the scrimmage.

“The way things work, with how practice goes, we usually kick all of our balls within a 20-, 25-minute period,” he said, “versus this is like a live game where you have to wait 10, 15 minutes between each kick, so I like that. And I think things went well for both me and Quigs.”

In today’s NFL, many punters have taken on the additional role of holding for placekicks, a skillset that adds an additional wrinkle to the punter competition. Each punter has rotated holding for both Nick Folk and Billy Cundiff, assuring that whoever wins the kicking job will feel comfortable with either man holding the football.

“It’s huge nowadays. If you’re a punter, you have to hold,” Quigley said. “Whoever is the starting kicker has to be comfortable with you. When it comes down to it, that’s going to be one of the questions that is going to be asked, 'Is Quigley’s holding up to par?' And I’m feeling good about it. It’s one of those things where you have to be perfect. With field goals it comes down to every inch and the ball has to be placed perfectly.”
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