Huston we have a Long Distance Problem

The Bears are looking for a kicker to challenge Robbie Gould, but it seems undrafted free agent Josh Huston has struggled with what the team is trying to improve.

An injury plagued career at Ohio State came to a close with Huston connecting on 22 of 28 field goals as a sixth year senior. While he had 110 points for the Buckeyes, he hit just 5 of 10 field goals from 40 yards and beyond.

The numbers are eerily similar to what Gould put up in 2005. Despite not taking over kicking duties until the fourth game of the season, only Mike Nugent finished with more points than Gould's 82. He converted 21 of 27 field goals attempts, but went 3 of 8 from 40 yards and beyond.

Even though leg problems and a steady dose of Nugent kept Huston on the sideline for the majority of his first five seasons at Ohio State, the two still keep in touch.

"I call Mike and ask him all the time about this process," Huston said. "I've asked him about what it's like in the NFL? The longer year and what do you do to save your leg? Stuff like that. It helps a lot."

Many kickers making the jump to the NFL struggle with the K ball.

"It's a new ball and even if you hit it really hard it's not going to go as far," Huston said. "So the key is to put a good stroke on it, hit it solid, and it will go far enough."

Chicago has also proven to be a difficult for even veteran kickers. Over the past three seasons, Soldier Field has yielded the lowest field goal percentage of any stadium in the league.

The competition between Gould and Huston will come down to more than field goal percentage. Improving hang time and depth on kickoffs is also a priority.

"The way I see it—and I could be wrong—but there's a lot of kickers that can make field goals," Huston said. "A lot of kickers are going to be right there, and what separates is the guys I've seen perform under pressure and who has the bigger leg that's going to get you better field position. So I think it's a big plus for teams to carry kickoff specialists."

The Bears have no intentions of using a roster spot on a kickoff specialist. There's a chance the team will try to keep a kicker on the eight-man practice squad.

Although Gould has the inside track to win the job, keeping Huston around for developmental purposes would provide a safety net if something goes wrong.


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