Mike Shanahan shares Billy Cundiff’s confidence in field goals

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Billy Cundiff’s story of redemption Sunday as he made the game-winning field goal softened the blow of the Washington Redskins‘ kicker going 1 for 4. And it ensured that as of Wednesday’s practice, Cundiff still was on the roster.

Coach Mike Shanahan on Monday showed a vote of confidence for Cundiff by saying the Redskins would not work out other kickers this week, something that made the 32-year-old “very happy.”

“I’ve been getting a lot of really positive [reinforcement], even though they don’t know me, for kind of what I’ve done in practice and what I’ve done in the games leading up to this last game,” he said. “If anything, I’ve got to prove to them, though I may not be as consistent as I wanted on Sunday, at least I’m mentally tough enough to deal with whatever may happen.”

Generally, kickers are on short leashes. A performance such as Sunday’s usually leads to a pink slip, especially when a the kicker is signed in the preseason like Cundiff was.

But along with the game-winning 41-yarder, Cundiff’s NFL resume could have helped him stick around.

“After talking to the coaches, they gave me no inclination whatsoever that that was even an option,” Cundiff said. “I think they kind of saw this as an anomaly.”

Cundiff acknowledged that, for him, it was better to get the field goal opportunity at the end of the game than for the Redskins to score a touchdown and rob him of the chance.

“No, it would have been a lot easier on my heart if we had a touchdown, that’s for sure,” Shanahan said.

Had Cundiff finished 0 for 4, it would have been hard to see him making it to Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons. If he never got into position to even try the field goal to redeem himself, there might have been some doubt.

“I think common sense prevails there,” Shanahan said. “You always want somebody to go out after a tough outing and prove themselves, and he did.”

Williams determined to play

Left tackle Trent Williams was determined to play through a bruised right knee against Tampa Bay on Sunday because he equates being on the field to leadership. Leading is one of his top priorities this season, and that’s not just because he’s a team captain. He is trying to establish his character following his drug suspension for the final four games last season.

“That’s a driving force behind a lot of things that I do as of now,” Williams said Wednesday. “I made a mistake, and I kind of use it as a learning experience. Of course, I alienated my team for four games and wasn’t able to be there. I was a captain at the time, and that made me feel even worse. This year, I’m just trying to prove to them that I’ve grown up a lot and that’s not me anymore.”

Williams played Sunday despite missing practice last Wednesday and Thursday and being limited Friday. He suffered the injury early in the loss to Cincinnati on Sept. 23. Williams‘ knee made it through the game OK.

“It was sore as a bleep yesterday,” he said, “but I’m good now.”

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