Updated: 9:10 p.m.
The Bengals' kicking competition is officially on.
Kicking under the intense pressure of knowing a successful kick would cut short practice on the hottest day of the year, Dave Rayner hit a 42-yard field goal and Mike Nugent hit a 46-yarder to allow their teammates to gratefully walk off to the showers at the end of Tuesday's second practice. If Rayner hit his, half the plays would be cut out of the final script. If Nugent hit his, the other half would be cut.
"Yeah, I'm happy they hit them. I'd say 90 guys are happy," said specials teams coach Darrin Simmons. "It's a competition. ... This won't be the last one."
Both kickers hit all four of their tries, Rayner from 27, 30, 38 and 42, and Nugent from 30, 34, 42 and 46. Clark Harris snapped and punter Kevin Huber held for all eight kicks. University of Cincinnati rookie long snapper Mike Windt, unable to practice until last week because of NFL rules, could get the next round.
Simmons had no idea both were perfect because he only watched the last two kicks. That must mean things are going well in this post-Shayne Graham era.
"If I'm watching the snap, the hold and the kick, then we've got issues," Simmons said. "That should be the last thing on my mind because I'm watching them individually kick for 30 to 45 minutes a day."
Simmons is watching the protection because he can watch the kicks on tape. And even though these were just kicks to end a hot spring practice, don't think it won't be documented.
"You only have an X amount of opportunities. Nothing is guaranteed at any point," Simmons said. "Anybody can get the plug pulled at any time. Anytime you get an opportunity to perform, you better perform."
Both Nugent and Rayner figure to make the 80-man roster for training camp to continue the competition into a preseason that has one more game than usual with five.
Rookie linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy broke his hand in the morning practice, but should be back in time for training camp...Quarterback Carson Palmer had a tough time getting the ball to running back Brian Leonard on some check-downs in the afternoon practice. He led him over the middle but WILL linebacker Brandon Johnson was there to pick it off and could have gone all the way. Cornerback Leon Hall, who had a pick six in the morning, then made a nice lunging catch backward when Leonard broke the other way...
Palmer did click with The Ocho for a 20-yard completion over the middle...Incumbent Kevin Huber punted in the morning and Jake Richardson in the afternoon. Wide receiver Quan Cosby, cornerback Adam Jones, and rookie wide receiver Jordan Shipley took turns catching.
When cornerback Johnathan Joseph said last month that the club had approached him about extending his rookie contract, he said he wanted to keep it in the background because he thinks keeping it out of the headlines will help get a deal done.
On Tuesday he said he remains confident that a deal is going to get done, although it will be in competiton with first-round pick Jermaine Gresham. But the Bengals have a track record of extensions getting done before and during training camp, most recently Andrew Whitworth and Domata Peko.
Joseph's low-key approach is in stark contrast to to the beehive of activity involving strong words and holdouts involvling many players heading into free agency. Joseph remembered how Ochocinco came to all the voluntary workouts in 2006 and 2007, but stopped coming the next season because of displeasure with his contract.
"Everybody is different. Not everybody has the same situation," Joseph said. "I'm just trying to have the best year I can have."
He said there isn't resentment in the locker room about The Ocho's voluntary absences.
"Everybody's grown men. It's mandatory and he's here. What more can you ask?"