For the last five weeks, Nick Novak was never too far away from a phone on Monday mornings. Living at home in Indiana with his parents, Novak knew that NFL teams typically make calls for tryouts on Monday morning, the day after games.
Novak had already worked out for New Orleans and Green Bay earlier this season, and he figured he would get another call at some point. Still, he was surprised to get a call from the Redskins on Monday.
The Redskins needed a new place kicker after John Hall was placed on injured reserve with quad and thigh injuries.
"I didn't expect it because I thought John Hall was doing well," Novak said. "But as soon as I talked to them, I just wanted to make sure I was ready mentally and physically for the workout."
Novak had stayed in shape daily, kicking daily with his brother and even practicing game scenarios. He arrived at Redskins Park on Tuesday and was 12-of-12 on field goal attempts, beating out three others for the job.
"I'm back again," Novak said. "Hopefully I'm here for a while."
Novak first replaced Hall in September 2005 after Hall had suffered a hamstring injury.
The former Maryland standout made his NFL debut with the Redskins on Sept. 19, 2005, against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football. He ended up kicking a game-winning PAT to defeat the Cowboys 14-13 at Texas Stadium, and he also had a touchdown-saving tackle on a kickoff return in that game.
Two weeks later, on Oct. 3, 2005, Novak was the hero of FedExField after kicking a game-winning 39-yard field goal in overtime to help the Redskins defeat the Seattle Seahawks 20-17.
Novak was released by the Redskins when Hall was healthy, and he later signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Overall, Novak was 8-of-10 on field goals and 15-of-15 on PATs last season.
With the Redskins, Novak will serve on kickoffs and field goals. The Redskins have punter Derrick Frost available for kickoffs, but would prefer to use Novak in that role.
During the Tuesday workout, he showed improvement in hang time and distance on his kickoffs, according to vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato.
Said Novak: "I feel stronger, more confident, and ready to play this weekend."
Asked about his experiences since departing the Redskins last year, Novak replied: "For a young kicker, undrafted, every place I've gone has been an opportunity to get better.
"The biggest thing I've learned is that you have to be prepared and you have to be determined to take advantage of your opportunities when you get them."
Head coach Joe Gibbs said that, after Novak's successful audition with the team last year, he has confidence in his new kicker.
"First of all, for John, we hated to lose him," Gibbs said. "He had surgery in the offseason and we thought he was 100 percent with it. We weren't quite sure how long [the recovery] was going to be, so we felt like this time it was best to bring Nick in.
"We have a lot of confidence in him because he won a game for us before. We like him a lot. He hit every field goal in the workout and he kicked the ball off better than what he had done [last year]."
Added long snapper Ethan Albright, who will work closely with Novak in the coming days to prepare for the Titans: "I don't think there's any doubt about him--he kicked a game-winner against Seattle. That's huge. We know the guy can do it."