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Simmons: both kickers will be in the NFL this season


Not much to choose from for Darrin Simmons.

With two pre-season games left and less than three weeks before the Sept. 10 opener against Baltimore, Darrin Simmons' kicking competition between veteran Randy Bullock and rookie Jake Elliott is right where it started three months ago.

Just about even.

"There's not much difference," said Simmons Monday as the special teams coordinator is still deciding who'll be just his third Opening Day kicker in his 15th season with the Bengals.

"Both guys are going to be kicking in this league this year. Whoever it is. I feel very confident about that. They've both done well. They've put their best stuff on tape, so I think both guys are going to be kicking this year. We're going to get a good guy and we'll let a good guy go. That's the hard part."

After two pre-season games, Bullock, the six-year vet who kicked here in last season's final three games,  is 4-for-4 on field goals and has kicked off five times for four touchbacks. Elliott, the fifth-round pick from Memphis, is 3-for-3 on field goals and has kicked off five times for three touchbacks.

Got a coin? Simmons has been watching them longer than that, going back to late May and spring practice and after viewing what he calls "upwards to hundreds of kicks,' here they are, "both hitting the ball very well."

Well enough that Simmons wishes there weren't so many touchbacks. That makes it tough on his ability to evaluate the guys covering kicks. But … That's why practice has become a little bit more important than in past training camps.   

"I understand there's a competition and I've told them I need to see leg strength," Simmons said. "And both of them are displaying that."

Elliott's hang time on kickoffs has been as advertised. Rarely has Simmons seen it hit in the 4.4-second range here, but he said Elliott has hit the mark in each of the two games

"He's really gotten the ball up in the air and he's showed he can get it down the field. The thing about him is with the consistency in the hits," Simmons said. "Randy has also hit the ball really well. What matters is the depth of the kickoff."

With not much time left, there's not much to choose.

 They're doing exactly what they're supposed to do," Simmons said. "That's why they're both still here."

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