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Smith Keeps Eye On 'Punting Competition'


When the Redskins selected punter Durant Brooks in the sixth round of the NFL Draft last month, it signaled an off-season competition was brewing between Brooks and incumbent Derrick Frost.

It's the first legitimate competition that Redskins coaches have noted on a roster full of veteran starters and promising rookies.

Special teams coordinator Danny Smith likes that there will be a serious punting competition--and a decision to be made based on that competition--when OTAs resume in June.

"In my mind, it is a competition and I don't have a problem with that," Smith said. "Competition is what the name of the game is--and it makes us all better."

Frost was the only punter on the Redskins' roster last year. He also served as holder on field goal attempts.

His NFL career has been marked by bouts of inconsistency, but he has steadily improved as he has grown into the job. He completed his third seasons as the Redskins' punter.

Last year, Frost had a 41-yard punting average, good enough for 18th in the league. His 36.4-yard net punting average was 21st in the league.

Brooks played college football at Georgia Tech the last two years. He shattered school and conference records with an average of 45.3 yards on 144 punts. He had 68 attempts that were downed inside the 20-yard line.

Last year, Brooks was the recipient of the Ray Guy Award, given annually to college football's best punter.

Asked about drafting Brooks, Smith said: "The timing was right. Obviously, he's a good player coming out [of college] and he has good leg strength. We just needed competition at the position."

Brooks must show in training camp that he has more than just a powerful leg. He must show he can convert pooch punts and kick directionally, important skills for NFL punters.

"These young kickers and punters that don't make it in the NFL--they sometimes don't understand that you have to have more than a powerful leg," Smith said.

Frost went through a slump last season, prompting the team to draft Brooks.

"In my mind, Derrick is in the middle of the pack [among punters] in the league," Smith said. "He is not a bad punter, but he is not one of the elite guys. But you always have to try to improve your team. I think we can punt better."

The goal for punters, Smith said, is to consistently kick 50 yards with a 4.5-second hang time.

"We are going to lay it on the table, match their numbers up and keep the best guy," Smith said.

Smith expects Frost to be up for the challenge.

Two seasons ago, Frost was in a slump midseason so the team brought in several punters to try to unseat him. Frost responded, kept the job and was solid the rest of the year.

"Derrick really took off and had his best year," Smith said. "He is a competitive kid. Some of us are better with our backs against the wall. I told Derrick that.

"I said, 'You will be able to pick it. I will give you the numbers. You can tell me who the better punter is [between him and Brooks]. We will all decide.'"

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