It may be time to start talking about homegrown Kevin Huber as the greatest punter in Bengals history.
Huber comes into his ninth season as the club's all-time leader in average for gross punting and net punting, more than a yard ahead of each of his closest pursuers, as well as the all-time leader in punts inside-the-20 while owning the Bengals' top five average net seasons in an entire career spent under special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons.
But Huber, who turns 32 next month, says in Thursday's Hobson's Choice Podcast that he's unhappy with what he did last season and vows to repeat his 2014 Pro Bowl selection.
"I'd love to get back to the Pro Bowl," Huber says. "Everything I didn't like about last season. I feel like I'm on the right path to get to where I was kicking a couple of years ago. I think I can get back there and make a couple of Pro Bowls before I'm done."
Why not? Lee Johnson, who has the most punts in Bengals history, kicked his last one at age 37 before he was jettisoned. Huber says his leg still feels young even though he has played the most Bengals games on the roster with 126. And he says he feels back on track this spring.
"I'm the oldest Bengal, I'm not the oldest guy yet," Huber emphasizes. "My wife and I were taking a look at that that this offseason and all the guys we lost and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I might be the oldest guy."
He's not. That honor belongs to cornerback Adam Jones, who turns 34 early this season. But Huber is well qualified to talk about:
-How this team differs from his six Bengals teams that have made the postseason: "I feel like we've always had a lot of veteran guys and this year I feel like we have the most young guys and the most just grind-them-out guys … I think it's more spread out this year, which is a good thing. It's just not one guy you're going to look at. There's going to be a whole mess of guys that take the leadership at different points in the season."
-How a punter can contribute to leadership: "A big thing I think I can do with the special teams guys coming in is getting them up to speed to Darrin's style of coaching … If you screw up, he's going to let you know … Just take it and know that he's noticing you … It's going to be big for me to keep these guys from panicking."
-How he literally holds the Bengals' first pure kicking competition since 2000 in his hands since he's holding for fifth-rounder Jake Elliott, veteran Randy Bullock, and former soccer standout Jonathan Brown: "It's legit. We're kicking every day. Charting all the kicks. You can feel it."
-How he loves kicking in the only place he's ever kicked after he prepped for the NFL at Anderson Township's McNicholas High School and the University of Cincinnati: "I don't really feel the pressure. I don't have to find new friends or a new neighborhood to live in … (The perception he's) just a nice Midwestern person, it seems kind of generic … I can deal with that."
-How he keeps an eye on the competition for the two gunner spots and how he takes care of his gunners with gifts, like what he gave Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard when he went to the Pro Bowl: "Having those two guys … I felt like I could put the ball where ever I wanted it … (I got them) some nice shoes. I'd never wear them, but they liked them."
Cincinnati Bengals host OTAs at Paul Brown Stadium Practice Fields.