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Punter Frost, kicker Suisham fly solo
August 8, 2007
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- If the kicker were Mark Moseley and the punter were Steve Cox -- and it was so often during Joe Gibbs I -- it would be easy to understand why the Washington Redskins wouldn't have anyone else at either position at training camp.
Instead, the kicker is Shaun Suisham and the punter is Derrick Frost, two young players who have the rare luxury of a camp without competition. Kicker Tyler Fredrickson was around for the first few days, but he was cut last week when the team needed to add players at other positions because of injuries.
"I didn't like doing that," coach Gibbs said. "It puts us in a little bit of a bind."
Gibbs is concerned that there is no Plan B in case Suisham or Frost gets injured or doesn't perform well. Neither is a sure thing, but both played well enough last year -- particularly in the clutch -- to earn their coaches' trust.
"Both of them have a chance to be good players," special teams coach Danny Smith said. "They're tough guys. They're football players. They just happen to be a punter and a kicker."
Suisham made eight of nine field goals, including a 52-yarder that sent the game to overtime against St. Louis, after joining the Redskins late in the season. He replaced Nick Novak, who replaced John Hall. Suisham, in fact, is the 16th kicker Washington has used in a regular-season game since 1995.
"I love taking all the kicks," Suisham said. "I like being the guy here."
Suisham, 25, had previously seen only limited action with Dallas and is still a raw talent in many aspects.
"What I'm working on is the maturity," he said, "just making all the right choices when I'm out there."
A good example came during Saturday's scrimmage against the Baltimore Ravens. Suisham's first kickoff went 5 yards into the end zone, but his second went out of bounds.
"I hit a real good ball, and the next one I wanted to kick it through the uprights," Suisham said. "You have to be more of a pro. You go out there and hit that same ball. You don't have to kick it over the uprights to have a good kick."
Frost, 26, has already had plenty of ups and downs in his brief career. He started well as a rookie with Cleveland in 2004 before fading in the second half of the season, and his 7-yard punt in the fourth quarter of a tight game against Baltimore won't be forgotten by Browns fans any time soon.
He joined the Redskins early in 2005 after Tom Tupa was injured, kept the job for the rest of the season but struggled during last year's camp. Gibbs and Smith were auditioning other punters when Frost bailed himself out with a superb performance in the final preseason game with six punts for a 47.2 average.
"I'm glad that that happened," Frost said. "I think that showed the coaches the resolve that I have as a player and as a person when things go wrong. I think I'm a really tough competitor -- it's tough to be as a punter -- but I think that I showed last year when I was struggling that I can really rebound."
Frost went on to have his best season, a 42.9-yard average (21st in the NFL) with a 36.7-yard net (20th). Neither number will get him to a Pro Bowl, but, like Suisham, he is learning to refine his craft.