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Training Camp 2008: Breakdown of the Saints Kickers


2007 Summary:

The Saints traded a 4th round pick for Olindo Mare in 2007, releasing the aging John Carney. They were hoping that Mare’s strong leg would prevent the 4th down decisions around 25 or 30 yard line that the Saints had to deal with in 2006.

Unfortunately Mare had a bad year. First with missed field goals while healthy and then missing field goals while hurt. The Saints eventually picked up Martin Gramatica to replace Mare and released Mare.

2008 Offseason:

The Saints resigned Martin Gramatica and drafted Taylor Mehlhaff in the 6th round of the NFL draft.

Player summary:

Martin Gramatica has been in the league for 9 years, even going to the Pro-Bowl, but started having accuracy problems in field goals longer than 40 yards around 2003. The Bucs stuck with Gramatica until midway through the 2004 season. After being cut he was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts exclusively for kickoffs later that year. Gramatica claims that he had been suffering from a torn abdomen muscle that was surgically repaired between the 2004 and 2005 offseason, but did play with any team during the 2005 season.

At the start of the 2006 season Gramatica was signed by the New England Patriots and competed with then rookie Stephen Gostkowski, but lost and was cut. Eventually he ended up with the Dallas Cowboys after Bill Parcells had released an inconsistent Mike Vanderjagt. Gramatica may well be fully healed and back to his once Pro-Bowl form, but only time will tell.

Taylor Mehlhaf is a big leg rookie out of the University of Wisconson. Mehlhaff played quarterback in high school and is considered a solid all around football player, despite being undersized for most any position besides a kicker at 5-10 and 184 lbs. Mehlhaff had a very high touch back ratio in 2007 with 42 of 76 kick offs resulting in touch backs. He has kicked in poor weather conditions and is able to hit field goals from 50+ yards out.

Mehlhaff had some accuracy issues early in his college career hitting only 70% of his field goals as a freshman, but improved every year and in 2007 made 21 of 25 (84%) with a long of 51 yards. Some have said that he had a slow approach on college game film prompting Mehlhaff to spend considerable time trying to improve that for scouts in the offseason. Only time will tell if Mehlhaff has the mettle to be an NFL reliable kicker.

Mueller and Payton have said that it is possible that the Saints could carry two kickers on the roster, as they did for the 2006 season. If Mehlhaff wins the job hands down, look for the Saints to keep only one, but if Mehlhaff shows promise, but doesn’t win the job outright, the Saints may keep both with the hopes of developing Mehlhaff during the season.

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One Response to “Training Camp 2008: Breakdown of the Saints Kickers”

  1. […] job outright, the Saints may keep both with the hopes of developing Mehlhaff during the season. Training Camp 2008: Breakdown of the Saints Kickers Saints Gab Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought an idiot, than to open it and […]

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