Lohmiller has to win only games, not a job He's the only kicker in Redskins camp

July 27, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

CARLISLE, Pa. -- With the Washington Redskins' scrimmage against the Pittsburgh Steelers tied, 19-19, Wednesday night, Chip Lohmiller lined up for what he thought would be the deciding kick on the final play of the scrimmage.

But Lohmiller, who already had made four field goals, never got a chance to kick the fifth.

The Steelers, who thought the scrimmage had ended on the previous play, were walking off the field as Lohmiller lined up.

The Redskins felt there was no point arguing that they had another play left, so they left without trying the kick.

When the Redskins play their fourth scrimmage in the past 10 days today, against the New York Jets at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., the Redskins figure to have all the field goals they need, because Lohmiller has picked up where he left off last year.

The Redskins have so much confidence in him that they didn't bring any other kickers to camp. That saved a spot on the 80-man roster.

Because Lohmiller is in only his fourth season, it may be close to a decade before the Redskins have another kicker in camp.

It means Lohmiller may never get a chance to develop the technique of psyching out rookie challengers.

It's part of football lore that veteran kickers have an edge over the rookies simply because they know how to win all the mind games. One of the classics was Mark Moseley's decision over Tony Zendejas in 1985.

Zendejas, who never felt a part of the team and showed it, went on to kick for the Houston Oilers, and Moseley was gone a year later, when he was cut after a poor game in Dallas.

Moseley's victory in that camp led to the decision to draft Lohmiller on the third round in 1988 after the Redskins decided their next three kickers -- Max Zendejas, Jess Atkinson, whose career was hampered by an injury, and Ali Haji-Sheikh -- weren't the answer.

Lohmiller quickly proved he was.

After a shaky moment in his rookie year when he shanked a fourth-quarter field-goal attempt against the New York Giants in a one-point loss (he calls it the "lowest point in my career"), he has developed into one of the league's most consistent kickers.

He made 30 of 40 field-goal attempts last year and all 41 extra-point tries.

Even if the roster limit were raised in the future, Lohmiller might not get any competition in camp. Coach Joe Gibbs has decided it may better to have one kicker and stick with him.

"It may be the best way to do this," he said. "Basically, those guys are allergic to competition. I used to think that it was great that we'd get two guys in here and let them kick it out. But before it was over, they were both nervous wrecks and went down the tubes. Now, we've just got one guy. We sink or swim with one guy. There's no pressure. We don't talk to him, don't say anything to him. Just put it through the uprights."

Lohmiller said it wouldn't change his routine if he did have competition.

"Mentally, I don't think it would bother me," he said.

Would he learn a few tricks of the trade to psych out a rookie?

"I could do that," he said. "I know how the guys treated me when I came to camp [as a rookie]. They've been around. They know what to expect. They know what's going on. You don't know where you're supposed to be. You don't know where you're at. The veteran knows what's going on, and the rookie is out in left field or right field, whatever it is."

Lohmiller's only real task in camp is working with new holders. Quarterback Jeff Rutledge is the incumbent holder, but punter Kelly Goodburn, who's being tested by rookie Chris Shale, and tight end Ken Whisenhunt will get a crack at it in today's scrimmage. Because Rutledge's status is uncertain, the Redskins want to look at more holders.

Now that Lohmiller doesn't have to worry about his job, he can think about other goals -- the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl.

"My time [for the Pro Bowl] will come. I just want to go out there and do the best I can to help the team get to the Super Bowl first," he said.

He wouldn't mind achieving both goals this year.

NOTES: DL Charles Mann, who sat out Wednesday night's scrimmage with a sore knee, will miss today's action, too. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in the off-season, but was expected to be ready for camp. Mann has declined to speak with reporters the first week of camp, probably because he doesn't want to answer questions about his knee. . . . Gibbs, who wasn't happy with the team's showing against the Steelers and is hoping for a better performance today, will have doubleheader of football today. After the scrimmage, he'll go to Hershey, Pa., to watch tonight's Big 33 game because his son, Coy, a linebacker heading for Stanford, will play for the Maryland team. The family lives in Virginia, but he qualifies because he played last year for DeMatha in Hyattsville, Md.

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