Fipp: Henery 'roughly the 14th-best kicker' in NFL

ap-dave-fipp-alex-henery-eagles.jpg

Fipp: Henery 'roughly the 14th-best kicker' in NFL

Dave Fipp keeps hearing how awful Alex Henery is and how the Eagles need to replace him and find another kicker and upgrade the position.
 
From Fipp’s perspective, that’s going to be really hard to do.
 
Fipp, now beginning his second year as Chip Kelly’s special teams coach, acknowledges that Henery has some weaknesses that he needs to work on but said Henery’s strengths make him the Eagles’ best option moving forward.
 
Henery's accuracy has dropped from 89 percent as a rookie to 87 percent in 2012 to 82 percent last year. And his kickoffs were among the worst in the NFL last year.
 
Fipp talked at length Monday about Henery and gave him a vote of confidence … sort of.
 
Henery has two jobs. Making field goals and kicking off. Fipp acknowledges that Henery must improve his kickoffs but believes he can. He also believes he’s a better placekicker than he gets credit for.
 
First, the kickoff issues.
 
Henery managed only 37 touchbacks in 89 kickoffs last year, and his 41.6 percent touchback percentage ranked 24th among 32 kickers who kicked 50 times or more.
 
That means better field position for the other team, and that means more points.
 
Fipp said Henery simply has to be better, and the two seem to have a plan to try and make that happen.
 
“Some of it is a strength thing,” Fipp said. “There’s a million things he can work on, but probably the biggest for us is the way he strikes the ball. We’re trying to drive it a little more than hit it high. Obviously a little less hang time and a little further.
 
“If you look at the guys who are hitting with the best touchback percentage, they don’t necessarily have a stronger leg but they’re striking the ball a little bit different, so their trajectories are a little bit different, so we’re trying to bring him back down to that.”
 
Then there’s the placekicking.
 
Henery in his three NFL seasons has made 74 of 86 field goal attempts, and his 86.0 percent career accuracy is tied for sixth-best in NFL history among kickers who’ve attempted at least 50 field goals.
 
But when you look inside the numbers, you see some concerns. He’s missed five field goals of 39 yards or shorter in his career, two in a one-point loss in 2011 to the 49ers that cost the Eagles a winning record. He missed a 48-yarder that would have given the Eagles a second-quarter lead in the playoff loss to the Saints. He missed field goals in three straight games early last year.
 
He’s also made just two kicks of 50 yards or more in his career and none over 51 yards.
 
Fipp believes Henery’s field goal numbers overall are very good. And he explained why.
 
“So many people get caught up in that overall number,” he said. “He went from [87 percent] to [82 percent]. But that could be the difference in one kick. It’s not like a passer completion percentage, where they have a million throws. These guys have [approximately] 28 kicks and one or two kicks off is a major shift.
 
“The other thing with Alex, his number dropped off significantly, but how did the number drop? We asked him to kick a 60-yarder right before halftime [against Dallas]. Well, there was a slim chance to make that, so he misses that, but if we didn’t ask him to do that, his number is higher.”
 
Take away that low-percentage 60-yarder, and Henery’s accuracy in 2013 goes from 82.1 percent to a more palatable 85.2 percent. Take away a 61-yarder he missed as a rookie and his career mark goes to 88.1 percent, fourth-highest in NFL history.
 
“Where his struggles are is long-range field goals,” Fipp said. “And I’m not arguing with that, but you’ve got to put everything into perspective.
 
“What’s happening? You can’t just look at the end results and say, ‘His numbers are terrible.’ Really, his numbers in a lot of the ranges are really good and most teams in this league would take those numbers.
 
“Now, the dilemma is that he hasn’t kicked the ball off well enough, but short to mid to mid-long he’s a very accurate field goal kicker. … Now, touchbacks are a different story.
 
“But replacing a guy like that is not easy because who’s out there as a field goal kicker? If he’s out there, somebody’s taken him. So you’re trying to find a guy who’s hard to find. But the bottom line is Alex has got to get better. I’ve got to do a better job, he’s got to do a better job, but there are some things he’s really good at.”
 
Henery, a fourth-round pick in 2011, does have competition this year for the first time as a pro. The Eagles signed undrafted rookie free agent Carey Spear out of Vanderbilt, but he’s a longshot to beat out Henery.
 
Especially after Fipp spoke at length about how tough it would be to replace Henery.
 
“At the end of the day he’s still a really good kicker,” Fipp said. “There are a lot of teams that would like to have a kicker as accurate as him on their team.
 
“Would you like him to be better on kickoffs? Sure you would. But if you take both of those stats, where does he rank in the league in [field goals and kickoffs], and add 'em up and divide by two … he’s roughly the 14th-best kicker in this league.

“So there’s 17 teams that want a guy as good as him.”

NFL Notes: Gareon Conley claims rape allegations are 'completely false'

NFL Notes: Gareon Conley claims rape allegations are 'completely false'

CLEVELAND -- Former Ohio State football star Gareon Conley says he plans to skip attending the NFL draft in person on Thursday and decried allegations that he raped a woman as "completely false."

No charges have been filed as police investigate claims made by a 23-year-old woman that he assaulted her in a Cleveland hotel on April 9. Conley was named in a police report that details the allegations but no information has been forwarded to prosecutors.

Conley said in a statement Wednesday that he believes the allegations are an attempt to ruin the draft experience for him and his family.

The woman told police Conley raped her in the bathroom of a hotel room after they met in the elevator and she agreed to go back to his room.

Conley's attorney says the cornerback, projected to be a first-round pick, plans to speak with police about the incident after the draft.

Raiders: Marshawn Lynch comes out of retirement
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Marshawn Lynch is coming out of retirement after agreeing on a two-year deal with the Raiders that paved the way for a trade to his hometown team in Oakland.

Lynch passed a physical Wednesday and agreed to a restructured two-year contract. Those were the final steps needed before Seattle could trade his rights along with a 2018 sixth-round pick to the Raiders for a 2018 fifth-rounder.

NFL Network said Lynch would get a $3 million base deal this season, with a chance to make an additional $2 million if he rushes for at least 1,000 yards.

Lynch had been slated to make $9 million this season if he came out of retirement. With Seattle unwilling to pay that amount and Lynch only wanting to play for the Raiders, finalizing a trade was simple once Oakland was able to re-do Lynch's contract.

Lynch also must apply to the NFL for reinstatement from the retired list before he can play with the Raiders (see full story).

Packers: Veteran OL Jahri Evans signs
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have signed veteran offensive lineman Jahri Evans as they look to fill a hole up front left by the departure of free agent-right guard T.J. Lang.

Terms of the agreement were not announced Wednesday by general manager Ted Thompson.

The 33-year-old Evans joins the Packers following 11 seasons in New Orleans, where he played 169 regular-season games since being drafted in the fourth round in 2006. The 169 games are the most played by an active NFL offensive lineman in that span.

After blocking for Drew Brees in New Orleans, the durable Evans figures to be the favorite to replace Lang after the Pro Bowl guard signed with the Detroit Lions last month.

Evans has been voted to six Pro Bowls.

Jets: 5 players waived to trim roster on eve of draft
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets have waived running back Brandon Burks, wide receiver Darius Jennings, long snapper Josh Latham, linebacker Jeff Luc and defensive lineman Julien Obioha.

The team announced the moves Wednesday as it trims its roster on the eve of the NFL draft.

The Jets, who have 76 players under contract, have seven picks in the draft -- including No. 6 overall. Teams can carry up to 90 players on their rosters until training camp, when there are cuts to 75 and then 53 to start the regular season.

Burks was active for the Jets' season finale and had two carries for minus-4 yards.

Obioha spent last season on injured reserve, while Jennings was on New York's practice squad late in the season.

Luc signed a reserve-future deal in January. Latham was signed in February.

Giants: Manning attorneys say he didn't provide fake memorabilia
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey -- Attorneys for New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning are trying to convince a judge that the dealers suing the two-time Super Bowl MVP tried to pressure him to settle a memorabilia lawsuit by releasing select notes that weren't related to the disputed goods.

Emails released by the court on Wednesday were part of a motion seeking sanctions and legal fees against one of the plaintiffs' attorneys after he released an email from Manning in 2010 that seemed to indicate he provided fake memorabilia rather than authentic game-used goods.

Manning angrily denied those allegations last week.

The lawsuit revolves around two pieces of equipment: a backup Super Bowl helmet from 2012 and another from the 2007-2008 season.

The memorabilia dealers suing Manning released a note sent by Manning to team equipment manager Joe Skiba, asking for two helmets that "can pass as game used," (see full story).

Haason Reddick's draft ascension to culminate in his backyard

Haason Reddick's draft ascension to culminate in his backyard

Live draft coverage begins Thursday at 5 p.m. with Philly Sports Talk and continues until midnight on CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App.

DeShone Kizer, who played against Haason Reddick in 2015 at Lincoln Financial Field, needed just one word to describe the Temple product.  

"Stud," Kizer said at the Shriners Hospital for Children on Wednesday at an NFL PLAY 60 event.

"Absolute stud. You've got to game-plan for him. He was playing at a higher level than you would expect a Temple football player to play at. We knew we were going to have to do whatever we could to stop him. He balled out against us. That took a whole team for us to go up against a guy like him, (Tyler) Matakevich in that fourth quarter to try and win it all."

Temple would have upset the Fighting Irish that night if it wasn't for some late game heroics from Kizer. 

Kizer connected with Philadelphia product-turned Houston Texan Will Fuller on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 2:09 left in the game as Notre Dame won, 24-20.

"They came out and they fought," Kizer said. "They were an undefeated team going into that game, it was Halloween night, Will Fuller's back home, and the way that game finished was obviously a good showing of what the season looked like all year." 

Reddick racked up four tackles in that game, including 1½ for a loss. As Reddick reflected on his career at Temple, he said that game against Notre Dame, the Penn State game in 2015 and the 2016 game against Memphis were some of the games that put him in the national spotlight. 

Reddick has taken that spotlight and continued to rise up NFL draft boards since the start of the draft process.

"I feel like I was under the radar," Reddick said. "They still truly don't understand the hard work that I put in to get here and really what type of player I am. But that will all change soon."

The former Temple walk-on has been projected as a mid-first-round pick. 

The Eagles hold the No. 14 overall pick in the draft Thursday night but haven't been linked to Reddick as much as other prospects like Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley and Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster.

But with Conley and Foster each reportedly slipping because of off-the-field issues, Reddick might be an option for the Eagles at 14.

Reddick said Eagles linebackers coach Ken Flajole has met with him a couple of times leading up to the draft.

If selected by the Eagles, Reddick would already be familiar with Lincoln Financial Field since Temple plays its home games there. It's where he led the Owls to the American Athletic Conference championship in 2016.

"The process has been a crazy ride," Reddick said. "To be able to hear my name called on Thursday, God willing if that happens, it would be beautiful, man. It would be a great way to end this first chapter and start getting ready for the next one."