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Novak’s job safe, for now
Nick Novak remains the Washington Redskins' kicker even though he has missed half of his 10 attempts, including a 37-yarder Sunday against Carolina. But the team did sign Shaun Suisham to its practice squad yesterday.
Mike Vanderjagt became available after the Dallas Cowboys released him Monday, but the Redskins did not claim him off waivers, and a team source said they don't have interest in the veteran.
Published reports in Texas said Vanderjagt, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, is returning to his home in Canada and doesn't plan to kick again this season. His agent, Gil Scott, did not return a phone message. Vanderjagt was slowed by a groin injury in training camp and made 13 of his 18 kicks for the Cowboys.
Suisham appeared in three games for Dallas last year and three games for San Francisco this season. To make room for Suisham, receiver Ryan Hoag was released from the practice squad.
"Obviously, I brought it upon myself," Novak said of the team meeting with other kickers. "They haven't released me, but I know I need a good week and need to take care of business."
Suisham did not work out for the Redskins. He has made four of his six NFL field goal attempts.
Besides the missed field goal, only one of Novak's four kickoffs landed inside the Panthers 10-yard line. He's averaging 60.1 yards on kickoffs this season.
"Any time you get a short kickoff, it puts you in a bind," coach Joe Gibbs said Monday. "Nick knows that."
It's possible the Redskins could elevate Suisham to the regular roster in time for Sunday's game against Atlanta and use him for kickoffs. He averaged 62.3 yards on kickoffs with San Francisco this season.
Novak, who finished his career at Maryland as the leading scorer in ACC history, spent several hours yesterday watching film of his 2005 and 2006 kicks.
"I noticed [on Sunday's missed field goal], I brought my head up quick, which brought my toe up, and that's the reason I pulled it," he said. "When I watch last year and this year, there are minor, technical things that are fixable and will be fixed. I'm preparing as best as I can to be consistent."
Novak went 5-for-7 last year with the Redskins, including a game-winner against Seattle. His highlight this season is a game-winning field goal against Dallas.
"I've shown I can make the big kick," he said. "Now it's a matter of kicking consistently."
By Tom Fitton
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