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For Hall, Tupa's In a Holding Pattern

In the final game of the 2001 regular season, kicker John Hall, then a New York Jet, came on with 59 seconds remaining and the Jets trailing the Oakland Raiders 22-21.

With the Jets' playoff hopes hanging in the balance, Hall booted a 53-yarder that propelled New York into the postseason.

The holder for that pressure-packed kick was punter Tom Tupa.

Tupa left the Jets after that season and, after a two-year stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and joined the Redskins in early March.

Now, he and Hall are reunited in Washington with aspirations of many more game-winning field goals.

The two specialists have remained friends since Tupa left New York, and both are excited to take the field together again in the burgundy and gold.

"Being familiar with a guy when you're coming into a new situation is always good," Tupa said. "It's a positive. John's easy to work with."

The Redskins' acquisition of Tupa did not make as many headlines as some of the team's other pickups this offseason, but the addition of Tupa could be just as important. Tupa is a 15-year NFL veteran and former Pro Bowler with a career gross average of 43.3 yards per punt. His gross average of 43.3 yards in 2003 was third best in the NFC.

As far as Hall is concerned, the acquisition of Tupa as a holder makes the pickup worthwhile. Good chemistry and familiarity between a kicker and his holder is essential, and Hall already shares that with Tupa.

"It's big because I know every time that he's going to do his job," Hall said. "That's one less thing I have to concern myself with. Having Tom there holding and having Ethan [Albright] snapping, to me, is priceless."

When Tupa was available last offseason, Hall and Tupa stayed in touch. Regarding Tupa possibly signing with the Redskins, Hall said it seemed to happen fast.

"It was late one night and Tom called me and said there was a chance [the signing might happen]. I said, 'Whatever you have to do, just do it.' The next day it was done. I was excited."

Anyone who has worked with or played with Hall knows how relaxed he is, even when on the field. Tupa said that his favorite thing about Hall is his easy-going style. It makes Hall a good co-worker and friend.

"He's obviously laid back," Tupa said of Hall. "He doesn't get flustered at all. He's not high-strung, so that's a good thing."

In addition to punting and holding, Tupa provides the Redskins with a possible emergency option--as well as a trick play option during punting and holding duties--because of his background as a quarterback. He started at quarterback and punter during his four years (1984-1987) at Ohio State, and has started 13 games at quarterback with the Arizona Cardinals early in his career.

For his career, Tupa has completed 259 of 506 passes for 3,340 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The Redskins hope Tupa punts infrequently this season, but when he is called upon, he is as reliable as they come. As a bonus, his skills as an experienced holder should help Hall continue as a consistent kicker.

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