Eagles still are not sold on kicker Alex Henery

Eagles kicker Alex Henery. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Eagles kicker Alex Henery. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 24, 2014

The Eagles were already uncertain about their kicking situation before Thursday's preseason win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. There is even more concern after Alex Henery missed a 31-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, bruising his tenuous grip on the kicker spot.

"I've got to be better," Henery said minutes after the home game. "It will probably ruin my night, but I'll wake up tomorrow ready to go, and get those [bad kicks] out of there, and get myself ready for the next one."

It's reasonable to wonder how many next ones Henery will get.

He made a 36-yard field goal in the second quarter, plus three regular extra points, and he connected on nine 33-yard extra points in the previous two preseason games. But, he also missed a 47-yarder last week against the Patriots.

That makes him 1 for 3 with two missed field goals he's expected to make.

"I wish I could put my finger on it," coach Chip Kelly said. "I don't know what he's battling. But, obviously, you have to make a field goal like that. You have to make it."

Henery said that he "didn't get all the way through the ball," and that the missed kick "snuck away" from him. He was frustrated because he thought he kicked well before the miss.

The Eagles traded for rookie kicker Cody Parkey on Wednesday and used Parkey for two kickoffs. Parkey sent the kicks 4 yards and 5 yards deep into the end zone, and both were returned. Henery kicked two touchbacks and had one returned from 6 yards deep and one returned from 4 yards deep.

Parkey became the third kicker on the roster, although Carey Spear is not expected to factor into the team's plans.

When Kelly was asked whether the pressure of bringing in another kicker affected Henery, Kelly offered an unsympathetic shrug.

"If outside influences are going to affect you, then that's something you've got to deal with," Kelly said. "There is going to be competition at every position. Our job is to make sure we put the best players out there and the guys that give us the best chance."

Henery's spot was uncontested in training camp last summer, and, after an inconsistent 2013 campaign, the team wanted to challenge him. The free-agent market did not excite the Eagles, who signed Spear after the draft.

They thought Spear would push Henery, but it became clear early in the summer that Henery was superior. Henery's strong training camp encouraged the team.

The last two weeks were a major setback, however, and now the Eagles are searching all options.

"We want to get competition," Kelly said. "We thought bringing Carey [Spear] in here, we were going to have some competition, then when we had an opportunity to get Cody [Parkey], we felt that Alex had pulled away from Carey. . . . Getting the chance to get Cody in here gives us a guy to come in and compete for the week."

Parkey might not be the solution, either. He led college football in kickoffs last season and converted clutch kicks, but he was unimpressive from long distances. The Colts had decided to waive Parkey before trading him to the Eagles. He'll have a chance to impress the Eagles' staff this week.

It's also possible this season's kicker is not on the roster. There are 14 teams that still have two kickers. The Eagles could choose one who is cut in the next week, although there's often a reason those kickers don't make a roster.

Three situations that could be intriguing are with the Giants, Bills, and Saints.

The Giants have Temple and North Penn product Brandon McManus, who was 2 for 2 on field goals between 40 and 49 yards during the first two weeks of the preseason and is trying to unseat veteran Josh Brown.

Buffalo has former Florida State standout Dustin Hopkins, who was a 2013 sixth-round pick but would only make the Bills as a kickoff specialist because of veteran Dan Carpenter. In New Orleans, Derek Dimke is 9 of 10 in three preseasons with the Saints, Tampa Bay, and Detroit, and is pushing veteran Shayne Graham.

The other teams to watch are Arizona, Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, New York Jets, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, and Washington.

For the next week, though, the Eagles will see whether Parkey can challenge Henery.

"We obviously need to bring someone else in, and that's what we did, and we'll see," Kelly said. "We've got another week. The good thing is we have a week before we go play the Jets [on Thursday], so we have a chance."


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

Inquirer sports columnist Bob Ford contributed to this article.

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