Leading up to the start of training camp for the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday, we’re breaking down each position group.
Today’s look is at the specialists.
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Kicker Mike Nugent, punter Kevin Huber and long snapper Clark Harris have been together since 2010, and that run is likely to continue in 2016, even with the presence of Zach Hocker competing with Nugent during training camp.
The Bengals always bring in a second kicker to help with the kicking and, sometimes, punting duties during the preseason, but usually it is an undrafted guy who is trying to make his first NFL roster.
Hocker was a seventh-round pick of the Washington Redskins in 2014 and has 10 career field goals and 12 extra points in 16 games with New Orleans and St. Louis.
But unless Nugent really falters while Hocker excels, look for the Bengals to keep the continuity.
Here are three things to know about the specialists:
Long and short
Nugent is the Bengals franchise record holder in field goal percentage for the longest and shortest kicks in the game. Since joining the team in 2010, Nugent has hit 100 percent (44 of 44) on field goals of 20-29 yards, and he is 50 percent (8 of 16) on ones of 50 yards or longer, passing Doug Pelfrey (8 of 17, 47 percent) by going 2 of 3 last year.
Nugent also is the Bengals leader in single-season points, scoring 132 in 2011, and field goals (33 in 2011), and his 55-yarder vs. Oakland in 2012 is tied with Chris Bahr for longest in team history.
He enters the season ranked third on the franchise’s all-time scoring list with 626 points, needing just 35 to pass Doug Pelfrey for third. But Nugent is still way behind career leader Jim Breech (1,151) and Shayne Graham (779).
Coming off his first Pro Bowl season in 2014, Huber had another solid campaign in 2015, with a 45.8-yard gross average and 40.5 net. Both numbers were the third highest of his seven-year career.
Ranked third on the Bengals all-time list in total punts with 531, Huber has a way to go to catch leader Lee Johnson (746) and Pat McInally (700). But he already stands atop the franchise list in career average (44.8) and single-season average (46.8 in 2014), as well as career net (39.6) and single-season net (42.1 in 2014).
It’s not just a big left leg that has made Huber successful, he’s also extremely accurate on short fields. Since the league started tracking punts inside the 20 as a stat in 1976, Huber holds the single-season record of 33 (set in 2012) and is four shy of Johnson’s team-best career total of 186.
There aren’t a lot of measureables for long snappers, but playable snaps is one of them. And Harris has had machine-like consistency when it comes to delivering the ball to Huber, either as a holder on kick attempts or as a punter.
Since joining the Bengals in 2009, Harris has played in a team-high 113 consecutive games (postseason and regular season) while delivering 1,029 playable snaps.
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