Tonight’s game will be the last dress rehearsal before the regular season and I’m going to be watching tonight to see who will win some last position battles.
The kicking competition is still up for grabs, the last WR slot (#5) and I want to see how Shonn Green looks as the number 1. I’m still not convinced he could be our guy.
But now I want to take a look at the kicking battle. I say Folk wins the job. In order for him to LOSE the job, he has to miss every kick from here on out. Remember he’s the incumbent and in order for him to lose the job he has to get knocked out. Despite putting up a great fight, I just don’t see Novak doing it.
I know fans have ridden Folk hard the last year and into this off season, but I believe he’s our best shot.
Nick vs. Nick
Will it be Folk or Novak. You have to think the edge will go to Folk, but the race has been tighter than we all would have thought. Just when Folk looks to jump ahead, Novak has a good game or practice.
“It’s been a good competition,” special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff said. “I give both guys credit for having responded well to one another’s challenge.”
There were perfect examples of that this week. On Tuesday, both kickers went 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts in practice. And on Wednesday, both nailed 62-yarders in practice.
“I feel like I’m in a pretty good groove right now,” said Folk, who was 30-for-39 on field goals for the Jets last season. “I think I’ve been kicking well [and] hitting the ball pretty solidly.”
“I feel the level I’m kicking at now is better than the other camps I’ve been in and the other opportunities I’ve had,” said the 30-year-old Novak, who is 19-for-30 on field goals in his career over parts of three seasons with Washington, Arizona and Kansas City. He last kicked in the regular season with the Chiefs in 2008.
Novak has been through numerous training camp competitions and one-day tryouts, so he is used to this kind of pressure.
“Mentally, it’s one kick at a time, one day at a time,” he said, “and I approach it that way as opposed to focusing on two weeks from now or the [upcoming] game.”
The two have alternated kicks during games, with the incumbent Folk getting the first one each time. Novak has connected from 35 and 30 yards, and Folk has hit from 33, 40 and 50 yards, the last one in a driving rain against the Bengals. He also missed a 43-yard attempt wide right in that game and put a kickoff out of bounds.
“That was very disappointing. You can’t do that,” Westhoff said. “Other than that, he’s kicked off well for the most part.”
Westhoff doesn’t know if he will name a winner after this game or the preseason finale against Philadelphia on Sept. 1, but said, “Obviously Nick Folk being the incumbent has the advantage. You’ve got to knock him out.”
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Erik Manassy is the author of this blog and a self proclaimed “Die Hard” New York Jets fan.