Who Is Winning the Kicking Competition Early in Jets Training Camp?


Kicking and punting competitions are training camp staples. The Jets are navigating the former as kickers Sam Ficken and Brett Maher are contending for one spot.

"Sam and Brett are doing a very nice job," said special teams coordinator Brant Boyer, whose unit has finished among the top 10 in the NFL in each of the past two seasons. "I see this coming down to the end here. I think they both have been very productive. Both have pretty solid percentages thus far.

"They both have more than adequate legs. I think Sam did a solid job last year and Brett definitely has experience and everything like that. I see these guys neck and neck. They've both had good camps and we'll see who shakes out. That's kind of how we're handling it and every day they're being charted on the same kicks from kickoffs to mortar kicks to onside to field goals. It's all going to come down to a big body of work and who we decide on in the end."

Ficken, who signed with the Jets last September and played in 15 games, connected on 70.4% of his field-goal attempts and 88.5% of his extra points. His long was 54 yards, and he hit a 44-yard game-winning field goal against the Dolphins in Week 14 as time expired at MetLife Stadium. Maher, who kicked in 13 games for the Cowboys last season, has a big leg. He's made 62- and 63-yard field goals in back-to-back seasons, but his accuracy decreased from 80.6% in 2018 to 66.7% last year. Maher has missed one extra point in his two seasons with Dallas (68 of 69).

One drawback to no preseason games is that Boyer can't see who performs well under the lights, which extends to more than the kickers. He's been frequently simulating game action in practice with a number of physical drills as a substitute.

"We really haven't scrimmaged yet and that's going to be the tell-all," he said. "Will they tackle, will they block, can they play with power? Can they run with these guys once we go full speed and turn it up. That's going to be the tell-all here in the next two or three weeks."

Boyer has a number of decisions to make between now and the season opener at Buffalo on Sept. 13. Who will be the kicker? The kick returner? Vyncint Smith returned 10 kicks for 299 yards last season (29.9 avg) but is out for 5-to-8 weeks after undergoing core surgery. The Jets have a platoon to replace him that includes WR Braxton Berrios; WR Josh Malone; and rookies S Ashtyn Davis, RB La'Mical Perine and WR George Campbell. Who will line up at gunner? Trenton Cannon, a core special teamer for the past two seasons, was released earlier in August.

Boyer has faith in the players on the roster despite the uncertainty. Six of the unit's seven tackling leaders from 2019 are still on the roster and the rookies such as Davis and Perine have impressed Boyer.

"I think that the guys we have coming back, that was a big thing last year we couldn't use – the guys that were starting on defense because we had so many injuries," he said. "Those are the core guys I initially thought we were going to have and then we had so many dang injuries that we couldn't use all those guys. I'm excited to work with the core group that I have with [Harvey] Langi and [Frankie] Luvu and Dan Brown and [Blake] Cashman and [Matthias] Farley and all those guys.

"The new guys like Ashtyn and Perine and several others have done a nice job, but it's hard to tell just two and a half weeks into practice."

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