PUNTER BATTLE! A Sort of Update: Talking to Shaun Suisham

I have spent literally hours over the past few days watching the special teams specialists practice holding for field goals. Snapper Ethan Albright hands the ball to an equipment room assistant, who loads it into the Jugs machine, which launches it to whichever punter is holding.



Kicker Shaun Suisham runs up in his approach. Every third or fourth time, he ghost-kicks, missing the ball. Every tenth time, he boots the ball over the trainers’ tents and the other punter steps in to hold. This becomes hypnotic in its routine consistency, and it is possible to watch almost endlessly.

The Jugs machine at rest.

The Jugs machine at rest.

The problem is, I haven’t been sure what to look for. What makes a good hold? I can spot a terribly botched one, obviously, but … a good hold seems like a subtle thing. So I talked to Suisham after practice today. He was very careful not to take any sides in the position battle, but was perfectly willing to explain to me what he looks for in a hold.

I’ve been watching holding drills for a few days now, and I’d like to know better what I’m looking at. So take me through a basic hold for a kick.

I set up eight yards back from the line of scrimmage, and if we have a hash to work with, we pick the front corner of the hash, but either way the holder and I agree on a spot. If the spot looks bad, we’ll choose an alternative, but generally it’s within a few inches of eight yards.

I take my steps backward and get into position. During that time it’s the holder’s job to make sure everyone’s set and that we’ve got all the guys out there.

From there, I get locked in. I step up and really get locked into my stance; the holder gives a last look back at me. I give him a nod.

From there, his right hand and his body come up for the set call. As soon as Ethan sees any movement, he’s coming back; as soon as I see any movement, I’m coming forward. So that’s why you see us working so much, because it’s pretty important for us to all be on the same page for that, otherwise it’s not smooth.

Okay. Now, position of the ball, do you have something specific that you’re looking for?

I like it straight up and down – not backward or forward, always with a slight lean toward the holder. Laces out!

Our times, we like to be around 1.3 seconds. It’s just all about rhythm.

Okay, that makes sense.

When it really comes down to it, though, it’s my job, no matter what I’ve got in front of me, to put it through the uprights. I fully understand that. And that’s, you know, what can make or break you. It’s not always gonna be perfect, you know? And that doesn’t mean that someone’s not good at what they do.

That’s what Coach Smith says, we gotta cover each other’s backs sometimes, so it’s my job to come through and kick well.

The specialists seem to be a tight group. Is it strange having a position battle in a group like that?

In the short time I’ve been in the NFL, in Pitt there was another guy there. In Dallas, there were always other people there. It’s not uncommon. It’s just like any other position; the only thing is, you can only keep one guy, so no one’s competing for a backup spot.

But I think all of us are pros, and if they brought in another kicker, it wouldn’t change my mindset, and if one of the punters was gone, it wouldn’t change the other guy’s mindset either. We’ve got a job to do, and regardless of who’s here we still need to perform at a high level.

Durant Brooks practicing for a hold.

Durant Brooks practicing for a hold.


48 Responses

  1. 1st?

  2. Panties!

  3. wtf? you call this a blog?

  4. How do we know when you post something new?

  5. Yeah. So far, 2 post about nada.

    If you don’t have anything to post, then don’t post anything.

    Any practices today?

    Other than Special Teams today?

  6. we’ll say “quack quack” 4th.

    i do like the fact that they use WP (word press) instead of stupid losable type that post uses.

  7. Love the insight! Keep ’em coming!

  8. I’m not an attractive man.

  9. Large Nads coming soon….

  10. where is sween? maybe he didn’t get the memo.

    this punter post is right up his alley!

  11. ‘Kicker Shaun Suisham runs up in his approach. Every third or fourth time, he ghost-kicks, missing the ball’…

    For some reason, I envision this:

  12. Woot Success Nate!!!

    Hey blogdude put the blog “home” link in the header.

  13. Where all the white women at?

  14. 4-12, great job with that… I was wondering whether the ‘ghost kicks’ were intentional or not…

    and why Ethan Albright has to be the guy who feeds the ball to the Jugs machine to do a mechanical snap to the holder… that just seems bizarre… the guy’s on the roster to do ONE THING, but they have a machine to do that job in practice when needed, but Ethan still has to be there? that’s just weird.

  15. Matt, I appreciate what you’re trying to do with this website and what you’re up against, but not having a link to Redskins Insider under your vast “Redskins Favorites” list seems a bit petty.

  16. truef, he doesn’t know html…though for some reason i think we should take it easy on this guy…cuz after all we are his guests…

    but yeah…you need to put a home link dude. we could suggest other improvements but it’ll cost you. personally i want a sweatshirt that says “washington football”….

  17. go back to the sorcerer and his cut and paste blog

    RI Trolls

  18. What’s the point of the ghost kick?

    Where does he kick it when it doesn’t go over the trainer’s tents?

  19. nate, 4-12, i think this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. if the holder isn’t going to practice holding then why in the world is he there?

    anytime someone says “jugs” i think of dolly pard(t)on

  20. hi jon, nice to meet you. don’t worry we’re only here for about 27 hours. we’ll be out of your way.

  21. i want to know how they’re improving JC’s mechanics and timing. and what’s wrong with Colt’s butt??? how did he hurt it?

  22. dealer, there are some things better left unanswered

  23. please stop with these boring kickers, i’m shure there is more better things to talk about

  24. did you guys notice he has a link to DC sports bog but not to RI?

  25. I windered where you had all gone!!

    Hey JTF, what’s it like to have someone do ‘drive-bys’ on your site for a change? :)

  26. I want to know if Ethan has ever had a football lodged in his butt crack from a low kick…

  27. dan, may i call you dan(?), i love what you have done with the place. i love the fact that your techies picked WP. great great choice. however the content is lacking. so are the writing skills. so are the photography skills.

  28. jonthefisherman, you’re not serious, are you?

  29. Just 26 hours and 6 minutes to go….

  30. chris cooley’s blog is HILLARIOUS…i know you guys all talk about it but i had never been…but here’s the addy: http://chriscooley47.blogspot.com/

  31. test

  32. ahhh….the monkies have lost their jungle


  33. i guess we can’t post a link on here. wow! i’m trying to post cooley’s blog link…it’s funny as heck…i had never been…

  34. Hola! OG Barno or “new, best ever” Barno?

  35. barno, you live here now? dude, i thought of you when i visited cooley’s blog…

  36. I am everywhere. Therefore, when one site goes down, I don’t pout like a puppy.

  37. Nate in the PDX, on August 5th, 2008 at 1:46 pm Said:
    jonthefisherman, you’re not serious, are you?

    not at you Nate

    just people that want to come here and hate on Matt ie.

    dealer, on August 5th, 2008 at 1:02 pm Said:
    wtf? you call this a blog?

  38. Redcoat, on August 5th, 2008 at 1:43 pm Said:
    I windered where you had all gone!!

    Hey JTF, what’s it like to have someone do ‘drive-bys’ on your site for a change?

    Hey Redcoat

    Last I checked this is not my site.

  39. lamont, on August 5th, 2008 at 1:41 pm Said:
    please stop with these boring kickers, i’m shure there is more better things to talk about

    — Actually Lamont a few of our concerned about our special teams… We missed a kick on Saturday and we have two punters that are battling it out. You can’t win without special teams….

    dealer, on August 5th, 2008 at 1:42 pm Said:
    did you guys notice he has a link to DC sports bog but not to RI?

    — There is a link to sports Bog…. look with your eyes open.

  40. beep beep

  41. pwf, are you on crack? read what i wrote and read your answer.

  42. dealer… to you I am sorry. I did misread. my bad.

    however, to the rest of you RI posters… really do you get enjoyment out of this. This is not JLC, thankfully, so get over it.

  43. PWF,

    What is the issue with us being here? Do you own the blog? It does say Redskins Blog right, so I’m assuming that all skins fans are welcome here? I dunno why don’t you tell us your thinking on the matter and perhaps we’ll leave. Most RI people just want to talk football so what’s the big deal?

  44. I’m trying to share the love, dudes, not be a troll… I meant what I said above to our host, Matt, that I do enjoy reading his stuff and am glad to see him settle into what looks like a happy groove. (It sure looked like a rough start, but it’s much more smooth now.)

    I still love “the other blog” but also appreciate this one. Can’t both things be true?

  45. I also love posts like this one where the topic and the content just seem so obscure, but I find them fascinating… the kicking unit at work in training camp… snapping and holding and ghost kicking… hilarious, interesting, goofy, etc.

  46. Dudes,
    A little respect. This is a work in progress, and it’s a long season. Anybody who posts here is in part responsible for the quality thereof!

  47. […] like Durant Brooks had any sort of problem with the hold on the field goal, so I guess all that practice on the Jugs machine did its thing. Incidentally, the Washington Post front Sports page spent most of the day convinced […]

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