Redskins give boot to rookie punter Incumbent Goodburn beats out Shale

August 03, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

CARLISLE, Pa. -- The Washington Redskins' punting duel ended almost before it had begun.

The Redskins cut rookie punter Chris Shale yesterday and handed the punting job to Kelly Goodburn, who had been signed with four games left last season.

Shale, a 10th-round draft choice who became the first Washington draft pick to be cut this year, was expected to push Goodburn in camp.

"What you want to see is two guys having a heck of a punting duel," said Wayne Sevier, the special teams coach of the Redskins.

Instead, Goodburn improved and Shale didn't show the form that had made him the nation's leading punter last year with a 46.7-yard average for at Bowling Green.

"In the last week, Kelly took a giant step forward, and when it happened, Chris actually went the other way," Sevier said.

The coach attributed some of Shale's problems to inexperience.

"There's tremendous pressure," Sevier said. "There's pressure put on by these people [veterans], and it's from within. These guys [veterans] tend to support the incumbent."

The result is that the Redskins decided not to bother to look at Shale in the first exhibition game, against the Pittsburgh Steelers tomorrow night. They're going all the way with Goodburn.

Now the question is whether Goodburn can keep the job. The Redskins have shuffled their punters a lot in recent years, and it's up to Goodburn to stop the merry-go-round.

Shale's departure left them with 77 players -- three under the 80-man roster limit -- so they have room to bring in a punter if Goodburn doesn't do well in the exhibition games.

"Now it's up to him to make sure there's no interest in getting anybody else in here. We don't want musical chairs here. I'd like to see him have a heck of a preseason, nail this thing down to the point where you're going, 'Hey, we've got a guy four to five years.' That's what I want to see him do because that means he's punting great and helping us," Sevier said.

Goodburn, who was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs three games into last season after spending three years with the team, knows he has to produce.

"It's nice in a way to know that you're the guy, but I have to go out and do a good job or somebody else is going to be in here," he said.

Goodburn's career average is only 40 yards, but he's considered a good position punter and none of his kicks has been blocked.

He thinks that being out of work for 10 weeks before the Redskins called on him to replace Ralf Mojsiejenko was a learning experience for him. While he was unemployed, his wife did the snapping for him when she got off work from her job as a promotions director for a radio station.

"It was really bad. . . . It's really difficult. As the weeks kept going on and on, then you start wondering yourself. . . . It does creep in like, 'Am I good enough to play?' and: 'What's wrong? Why doesn't anyone call?' It was a very bad time for me. I think I learned from it," he said.

One thing he learned is he's not going to buy a house in Washington the way he did at the beginning of last season in Kansas City.

For now, he'll just continue to rent an apartment in Washington.

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