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Preseason Pressure For Gano


New long snapper, new holder, same old kicker. Only the kicker isn't that old. Welcome to just one of the Redskins' mysteries on special teams.

The Redskins have only one of each of those specialists in training camp and experience is in short supply.

Long snapper Nick Sundberg has never snapped in an NFL game, punter Josh Bidwell, the holder, signed with the team this spring and kicker Graham Gano can boast of four games of NFL playing time, all with the Redskins.

That there's no kicking competition may be a gamble. Or a positive sign.

"That shows the coaches do have confidence in me and I appreciate that," says Gano, who converted all four of his field goal attempts in 2009. "I'm just trying to show them that I'm the guy for the job and I feel like I've been doing that this camp."

Gano replaced Shaun Suisham last season and kicker is not a position with great job security. Suisham made 17 of 20 field goals last year but two misses came in a one-point loss to the Dallas Cowboys and another against the New Orleans Saints in a situation that could have put away a game the Redskins ultimately lost.

So even when Gano enjoys success, he knows he must push harder.

At practice on Tuesday, he banged home two of three tries from 53 yards. Good, but not good enough, he says.

"I didn't feel like I hit the ball very well. I had enough leg on it but I didn't feel like I hit it as smooth as I have been," he says. I don't think I got any worse today but every day I'm looking to get better so if I don't get better I'm disappointed in myself."

He's looking forward to the first real test – against the Buffalo Bills in the preseason opener Friday night. That's when the snap, hold, kick routine faces true pressure. All the mental gymnastics disappear when the lights go on and the opponent applies the rush.

"You can try to make it as game-like as possible at practice but you're never going to do that until you do get to the game," Gano says. "With me, I just tell myself every kick is a big kick, just like in a game."

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