Derrick Frost has been in a strange position since April as the incumbent and the underdog in the battle with a draft pick to be the Washington Redskins’ punter. However, a team official said Thursday the veteran can win the job with a big performance in Saturday’s preseason game at Carolina.
Rival Durant Brooks won’t kick in the game after getting all the work last Saturday against the New York Jets.
“If Derrick has the hang time we want in this game, then he has the advantage,” the source said. “We would cut a draft pick. All along we’ve wanted a better punter this year whether that was Durant or whether Derrick improved.”
Brooks, the nation’s top punter as a senior at Georgia Tech in 2007, boomed three kicks over 50 yards last week and has averaged 44.2 yards gross and 33.7 net on 10 kicks.
Frost, who put his job in jeopardy by slumping in the second half of last season, has averaged 34.0 gross and 22.8 net on four punts. Frost faced a similar situation two summers ago against big-legged Australian David Lonie and responded with a monster game against Baltimore to keep his job.
“I always play my best when people push me to the edge,” Frost said. “If I perform the way they’re expecting me to in this game, I think I’m sitting pretty good. I’ve had a really good two weeks of practice, and I feel locked in on my technique. I’ve played for this team for three years, and now I’m going to get maybe eight reps to showcase what I can do. I’m going to have really take advantage of them, I guess. The real question is what if I only get two punts this week?”
Although the Redskins have to cut five players by Tuesday, one of them could be Frost or Brooks so special teams coach Danny Smith can have another player available for coverage and returns in Thursday’s preseason finale against Jacksonville.
“It’s a big game for Derrick,” Smith said. “There’s no question [that Durant] has the bigger leg, but Derrick’s a better pooch punter. If it’s still this close after the Carolina game, then the Jacksonville game will be for all the marbles. Derrick is a little bit better holder, but one hold separates the two of them in practice and in games.”
Low on linebackers
Only six linebackers practiced Thursday because strongside starter Marcus Washington had a hip flexor checked out and backup Matt Sinclair remains sidelined with back spasms.
Two of the linebackers practicing, Rocky McIntosh and H.B. Blades, are coming off knee surgeries, and two more, Alfred Fincher and David Holloway, have signed since camp began. That leaves London Fletcher and Khary Campbell as the only healthy and experienced backers.
“We are thin there,” Zorn said. “I’m concerned because [Marcus] does have a bit of an irritation … but he didn’t think it was much of anything.”
However, a similar injury troubled Washington in 2006 and the following offseason. Zorn said Washington’s status for the Panthers will be decided Saturday.
Zorn doesn’t expect Sinclair to play and rookie receiver Malcolm Kelly, who has yet to return to full-time practice after having a knee scoped Aug. 4, likely won’t play.
By Elaine Donnelly
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