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> Blocked Sidelined San Diegos Mike Scifres With
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A brutal hit while having a punt blocked sidelined San Diegos Mike Scifres with a broken left collarbone.In came placekicker Nick Novak, charged with one of the most important roles in special teams. He hadnt punted since high school and barely practices it as a pro.Yet he was more than comfortable with the challenge.I can do it, Novak said after punts of 27, 33, 45, 51, 46 and 38 yards in the loss to New England on Dec. 7. I cant do it on Mikes level, but I feel I can certainly get the job done. The pressures not there, because Im sure the expectation is, just catch it and kick it and get it out. ... If you mess up, Well, he doesnt punt. If he does well, its more of a Wow kind of thing.There really was no pressure there.Ah, but usually there is tons of pressure on a placekicker replacing a punter in a game, and vice versa. The only similarities between the jobs are that both players make a living with their foot, and their specialties are critical to field position and scoring.Because there are so many differences in the mechanics of each job, rarely do the kickers and punters practice the others role.Puntings very linear, and your swing is more straight up and through the ball, explained Minnesota field goal kicker Blair Walsh. Kicking, youre coming around it a little bit more and youre worried about a plant.Still, as a pro, Walsh has studied what the Vikings Jeff Locke and other NFL punters do, and believes he could handle the assignment. He even spends some time on Fridays working on punting.You could use the similarities between the two, whether its locking your foot out or having an explosive motion through it, he said, adding that overdoing it must be avoided.Theres definitely similarities you could carry over to each position to make you successful at both, Walsh said. Ive been around it long enough where Ive seen a lot of good punters do the right technique, so you sort of emulate it a little bit in your mind.But I think the biggest thing would just be getting used to the live rush coming at you.Indeed, the rush to get to the punter is a sprint, entirely different and probably more dangerous than attempts to block field goals.While NFL coaching staffs and personnel people try to account for all situations, an in-game injury or illness to a placekicker or punter often falls outside their preparation. San Diego was extremely fortunate that Novak was so successful; the Chargers have a similar history because Scifres did the placement work in the 2011 opener when Nick Kaeding injured his knee.Thats also how Novak wound up in San Diego.Generally, though, its a desperate spot when one of those guys goes down in a game.I was 70 per cent in college, which is plenty enough to get you cut in the NFL, Saints punter Thomas Morstead said of his placekicking. But Id be a very serviceable backup, I would think, if they need me in a pinch.I can kick it a long ways, but whether it goes between the sticks, you know. ...Theres the rub.Theyre so different, but Im going to say its probably more difficult filling in as a field goal kicker just because theres not much room for error, Jets punter Ryan Quigley said. Punting, youve got the whole field to work with. Its like, when youre punting, you can just say, OK, were going to punt it down the middle and hopefully it stays in bounds and you get a good 40 yards out of it.Punters and placekickers find good reasons not to practice the other guys art. San Franciscos Phil Dawson, now in his 16th season making field goals and extra points, works on punting occasionally. He notes the more I do it, the worse I get.But he points out with a sharp jab that punter Andy Lee trying Dawsons specialty would be worse.Some teams even had other players as the backup punter or placekicker. On the Saints, its second-string quarterback Luke McCown behind Morstead. For Philadelphia, wide receiver Riley Cooper backs up placekicker Cody Parkey.Perhaps the patron saint of replacement kickers is Craig Hentrich, who punted for 16 NFL seasons. Hentrich was a standout at both jobs at Notre Dame, won a Super Bowl as a punter with Green Bay and played in another with Tennessee.He went 3 for 3 on field goals of 49, 34 and 33 yards in the 2003 opener after placekicker Joe Nedney suffered a season-ending knee injury. Hentrich hadnt made a field goal since 1995.Ive seen some punters, actually, step in and have good games kicking when the kicker went down. The most noticeable Ive ever seen is ... Hentrich, Saints placekicker Shayne Graham said. But he was also a respected kicker at Notre Dame in college because he did both, so he had the background for it.Nobody does both in the NFL anymore, except in a pinch.So if Quigley gets called on to replace Folk during Sundays finale, whats his philosophy?Shoot, Id tell them to back it up and put me out there from anywhere, he said with a laugh. Nah, thats the way I think because Id just crank it and use my leg strength. But who knows where its going?___AP Pro Football Writers Teresa M. Walker, Dave Campbell and Rob Maaddi, and Sports Writers Janie McCauley, Joe Kay, Dennis Waszak Jr., Bernie Wilson and Brett Martel contributed to this story.___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL Wholesale Denver Broncos Jerseys . No surprise there. Kershaw, who also earned the title after throwing his first career no-hitter in June, had a 1. Denver Broncos DreMont Jones Jersey . 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A native of Trencin, Slovakia, Gaborik has represented his country at the 2006 and 2010 Olympics but was unable to play in Sochi because of his injury.NEW YORK -- Eduardo Nunezs time with the Yankees ended after a decade when the infielder was traded to the Minnesota Twins for left-hander Miguel Sulbaran. The deal was announced Monday. The Twins assigned Nunez to Triple-A Rochester. Signed by the Yankees in 2004, Nunez came up to the major leagues in 2010 and was seen as a possible successor to Derek Jeter at shortstop. But he struggled defensively, was beaten out by Yangervis Soolarte during spring training for a backup infield job and was designated for assignment last week.dddddddddddd. The 26-year-old Nunez hit .267 in 270 games for the Yankees with 10 homers and 76 RBIs. The 20-year-old Sulbaran was 9-4 with a 2.96 ERA last year at Class A Great Lakes and Cedar Rapids. 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