Plackemeier, Brooks, Frost, Groom and Tupa is not a high-powered D.C. law firm. It’s also not the long-winded name of a late 1960s rock band.
No, Ryan Plackemeier, Durant Brooks, Derrick Frost, Andy Groom and Tom Tupa are the punters whom the Washington Redskins have employed since Danny Smith became their special teams coach in 2004.
Include Bryan Barker, Craig Jarrett, Tommy Barnhardt and Matt Turk, and that’s nine punters the Redskins have used during the decade that Hunter Smith filled that role for the Indianapolis Colts.
However, the Redskins believe they finally stopped the musical chairs at the position when they signed Hunter Smith to a veteran-minimum contract April 24. The Redskins have so much confidence in the 31-year-old, whose career averages are 43.4 yards gross and 35.5 net, that they cut punters Dirk Johnson and Zac Atterberry.
Danny Smith made sure before the signing that Hunter Smith didn’t just benefit from punting half the time in the perfect conditions of the RCA Dome and Lucas Oil Stadium. Now his biggest concern about Hunter Smith is that he doesn’t overkick during training camp. That hasn’t been an issue so far since Thursday will be Hunter Smith’s first day punting in team drills; he didn’t attend May’s organized team activities.
“We haven’t had a guy with Hunter’s kind of consistency or longevity,” Danny Smith said. “He’s a real pro. That’s a comforting feeling for a coach. He can punt the ball for distance. He can punt the ball for hang time. He can directional punt. He can pin people inside the 20. And he’s a great holder.”
Although Hunter Smith had spent his entire career in Indianapolis, coach Tony Dungy’s retirement and the subsequent change in special teams coaches made it easier to leave when the Colts decided to let him become a free agent despite a fine 2008 season.
“With all the changes going on in Indianapolis, it felt natural to step out of that situation, and it feels very natural to be here,” Smith said. “Danny brings a different level of intensity than I’ve been around, and the production of his special teams has been great. I am genuinely excited to be here and to be a part of something new. Football doesn’t change.”
Neither has Smith’s technique. His father, Reggie, a punter in high school, taught him to punt in their backyard when he was a boy in Sherman, Texas.
“My dad pretty much taught me the technique I use right now,” said Smith, who also was a quarterback and receiver hopeful at Notre Dame before winning the punting job as a freshman in 1995. “It’s very efficient with no wasted motion and a really big follow-through. That’s the way you get hang time. One of the best things I do is pinning people inside the 10- or 20-yard line. I think of myself as a fairly complete player.”
And he’s more than just a football player. Smith is also half of Connersvine, a Christian rock band that he started years ago in Indianapolis with friends.
“I grew up in a musical family,” Smith said. “I love writing music. I love telling stories. I played guitar and sang growing up. Connersvine is not a relief for me or a side thing. It’s something I really feel called to be a part of. We’re not so much a Christian rock band as we are Christians who play rock music.”
Notes - Three of the five starters - running back Clinton Portis, fullback Mike Sellers and cornerback Carlos Rogers - who missed Monday’s start of June’s organized team activities returned Tuesday. It was the first nonmandatory appearance at Redskin Park this offseason for Sellers. Portis also had skipped the Monday session during the May 4-7 OTAs. Rogers had been battling the flu Monday. So was rookie cornerback Kevin Barnes, who also returned Tuesday, leaving only receiver James Thrash (neck), linebacker London Fletcher and safety LaRon Landry absent.