|Chiefs trying to sort out place kicking prospects|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 13 August 2008 23:22|
There's only one opening for a place kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs and Novak and Barth are competing against each other for the job neck and neck, or foot and foot as the case may be.
Novak, with 16 NFL games on his resume, has an edge in experience. In two stints at Washington and one at Arizona, he's 13-for-20 in field goals and 25-for-25 in extra points. Barth is an undrafted rookie on a team that's recently had a terrible experience with a rookie kicker.
In a camp that's been highlighted by heated competition at many positions, theirs is as close as any. Heading into Saturday night's preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, the Chiefs have charted about 130 field goals, and Novak and Barth have both made about 85 percent.
They've been disappointing in the distance they've put into kickoffs. But 85 percent field-goal accuracy would be about a world and a half better than the 70 percent three struggling kickers combined for during a 4-12 campaign last year.
The Chiefs are hoping one man grabs hold of the job and keeps it.
``I told these two guys when we started camp, 'Look, one of you is going to make our team and one of you two is going to be our kicker for the entire year, and that's what we're looking for, some stability because we didn't have that last year,''' special teams coach Mike Priefer said.
The two have made an effort not to let their competition get in the way of friendship.
``We usually try to keep it on the field and everything,'' Barth said. ``It's tough sometimes. You have a bad day and you get frustrated here and there, but for the most part it's been really good.''
Novak has coached Barth's younger brother at a camp and met his rival's parents.
``Once I step on the field, and I think he's the same way, you want to impress and perform,'' Novak said. ``But he just doesn't have the personality where it would come to where I wouldn't like the guy. We have a past as far as going to the same camps and I know his parents. The business side of it of course, I want to be the guy here at the end of the day. But he is also my friend and I want to see him be successful as well.''
Adding to the uncertainty is the possibility that neither will win the job. After seeing rookie Justin Medlock fail so miserably last year, the Chiefs might want to go with someone more experienced. Veteran kickers get released often, such as Jay Feely, who was let go this week by Miami.
``Another thing that people aren't talking about is - we talk about it cause that's our job - is what do we do if one of these can't make it,'' Priefer said.
But Novak and Barth can't allow themselves to worry about such things. They're too close to winning an NFL job to be distracted by anything beyond their control.
``This is all a new experience for me, so I'm just trying to take it all in stride,'' Barth said.
Novak added: ``I can't really describe the feeling I would get if I won this job.''
Coaches will take a close look at what they do on Saturday night against Arizona.
``I would like to see more out of kickoffs on Saturday night. That will be a telling sign,'' Priefer said. ``I expect them both to make their field goals.''