- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 8, 2000

The Carolina Panthers are celebrating this week, thanks to the fortuitous signing of kicker Joe Nedney.

The Washington Redskins are kicking themselves.

Nedney, one might remember, considered offers from the Panthers and Redskins five weeks ago. He signed for the league minimum with Carolina, even though the team was just 1-3 at the time and Washington was a Super Bowl contender with a $100 million payroll.

Now Nedney is 16-for-17 on his field goal attempts for the Panthers, with the game-winner Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams, while Washington is searching for its fourth kicker of the season.

That search takes to the field this afternoon, two days after the Redskins cut 23-year-old Kris Heppner, who missed 51- and 33-yard attempts in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 16-15 loss to the last-place Arizona Cardinals.

Five or six kickers are expected to attend the latest cattle call at Redskin Park, which takes place after practice and follows a four-man competition just four weeks ago. Heppner won that battle against Doug Pelfrey, Chris Jacke and Jeff Hall, but ultimately lost the one against this team's suffocating expectations.

"Obviously we would like to have someone who has kicked under those circumstances late in the game, with the game on the line," coach Norv Turner said yesterday. His Redskins (6-4) are 1* games behind the New York Giants and likely in a battle for a wild-card playoff spot.

The leading candidate to become Washington's next kicker is 44-year-old Eddie Murray, the club's kicker in 1995 and the NFL's No. 7 all-time leading scorer. But Murray's ineffectiveness on kickoffs (he is just four years younger than Turner) likely would necessitate signing another kicker solely for that purpose.

The newest kicker or kickers will be the 10th and perhaps 11th of Turner's seven-year tenure.

In 1995, Murray hit 27 of 36 (75 percent) of his field goal attempts, while making all 33 extra-point tries in a then-record streak of 250.

Murray and Turner also were paired on the Dallas Cowboys in 1993, when Turner was the Cowboys' offensive coordinator. Murray hit 28 of 33 (84.8) field goals that season. Last year he returned to Dallas to fill in for Richie Cunningham, making seven of nine.

Club officials wouldn't confirm that Murray is being invited today, let alone that he is the front-runner. In fact, it was not clear who the Redskins were planning to bring in, though the pool of candidates certainly wasn't improving with age.

Chris Boniol, Cunningham, Jeff Jaeger, Norm Johnson, Pete Stoyanovich and Brian Gowins each kicked in the NFL last season and is out of work. Pelfrey and Jacke also remain available. Hall was picked up this week by the Rams, who released Stoyanovich Monday after the veteran missed 37- and 50-yard attempts against the Panthers.

Turner said it was safe to assume the Redskins would not be inviting Stoyanovich. Of the general quality of available talent, he said: "Other teams are in the same bind. It's not easy."

Nedney's game-winning boot against the Rams came from 46 yards with 40 seconds remaining. For the season Nedney has hit 24 of 27 (88.9) for Carolina and the Denver Broncos.

The week after Nedney shot down the Redskins, former Seattle Seahawks standout Todd Peterson declined to work out for Washington. Peterson, recovering from a groin injury, signed with the Kansas City Chiefs that week and has made five of seven attempts. Earlier in the season the Redskins worked out but did not sign Jaret Holmes, who went to and remains with the Giants.

Washington began the season with 25-year-old Brett Conway, who made 22 of 32 (68.7 percent) of his field goals in 1999. But Conway strained a quadriceps in the summer and kicked in just two games. He was placed on injured reserve and later waived.

Michael Husted was Washington's second kicker, but he never looked comfortable. He lasted four games and made just four of eight field goals including none over 30 yards and missed an extra point. He was released after missing two field goals in the Oct. 8 victory at the Philadelphia Eagles.

Despite the Redskins' obvious lack of patience with kickers, they likely remain more desirable than the Oakland Raiders, who also are looking for a kicker. The Raiders need only a stopgap until rookie Sebastian Janikowski heals a foot infection. Oakland will not seek to sign a kicker until after it knows Janikowski's status for Sunday.

Washington also may look for some help on coverage teams, though it knows the pickings are slim in that area, too. Said Turner: "If there is a speed-type cover guy out there, that would be somebody we would take a look at. We need a guy who is faster."

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