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Gano, Sundberg Hope For Redemption


Graham Gano and Nick Sundberg may have low-profile personalities, but their jobs come with a degree of scrutiny.

Especially after last Sunday's 17-16 loss to Tampa Bay at rain-soaked FedExField.

Gano, the Redskins' place kicker, missed two first-half field goals and even his successful field goal and PAT attempts sailed left.

Later, on what would have been a game-tying PAT, long snapper Nick Sundberg sent a high snap to holder Hunter Smith. The ball slipped through Smith's grasp and the attempt failed.

Smith was released this week, which had to be a wake-up call to both Gano and Sundberg, both first-year players.

Head coach Mike Shanahan said that Smith's release was not due to the botched hold. Smith's punting had been lackluster in recent weeks, so the team brought in third-year punter Sam Paulescu, Shanahan said.

Gano and Sundberg know their jobs could be on the line if they're responsible for another special teams gaffe.

Gano has had an up-and-down season. He made 22-of-32 field goals this season and his field goal percentage is ranked 31st in the league among kickers with 10 or more attempts.

Gano said he is looking forward to redeeming himself following the loss to Tampa Bay.

Immediately after last Sunday's loss, Gano headed to Redskins Park to review film of his kicking motion to see if he could find a flaw in his mechanics.

"I understand what I need to get done and what I need to do," he said. "It's my job as the starting kicker on this team to make my kicks. If I don't, then I'll be gone. I realize that and everybody else does.

"So I'm just going to keep on improving. I'm confident I'll have a great game in Dallas this week."

Said Shanahan: ""I think anytime you have a tough game, especially like Graham [did], you've got to believe in yourself. He's got to go out there and he's got to prove that he belongs in the National Football League.

"He has been doing an excellent job with kickoffs. He's a little inconsistent right now on field goals. I just hope that he understands that it's more of a mindset because he's been doing it pretty consistently in practice. Hopefully it carries over to the game."

Gano suffered a rib injury recovering the ball on the botched PAT, but has not been limited in practice this week.

Sundberg has replayed the snap over and over in his head, but he has moved forward as the week has progressed.

"If the snap had been lower, [Smith] might have caught it," he said. "If the snap had been a little higher, I might be the one [released]. You try not to think about stuff like that and just move on."

Like Gano, Sundberg knows he can't take anything for granted when it comes to his job.

"You never want to get comfortable," he said. "You just have to take things week to week."

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