Barth and McManus have been locked in a fierce kicking battle since the beginning of organized team activities and while many fans believed that Barth had a leg up in the competition, it was clear from the beginning that Denver wanted McManus to win this job, but they would not just hand it to him.
Head coach Gary Kubiak talked about what set the two kickers apart today.
“Obviously, kicking off," Kubiak said. "That’s the biggest thing. If we’re going to find a way to do this with two [kickers] and not with three, then somebody’s got to have a dual role or be able to do both one way or another for us to get that done. I also think Brandon has kicked extremely well. He’s been very consistent. Today, it looked like he was very consistent today in what he was doing. It’s us showing confidence in him and it’s up to him to in turn do his job and do a great job. We have a lot of confidence in him.”
Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said recently that McManus' resurgent camp and boost in accuracy is in part due to a two-step kick he has implemented this offseason. Watching McManus kick, you can tell he isn't just trying to lau ch the ball as far as he can.
Kicking power was a huge factor in the decision. McManus' kickoffs have an average hang time of 4.2 seconds or more, while booting most of his kicks towards the back of the endzone. On the other hand, Barth's average hang time was between 3.75 and 3.95 and often failed to reach the endzone.
Against Seattle, both of the Seahawks long returns, including the touchdown, were on Barth's kicks, with 3.8 seconds of hang time. McManus showcased this offseason an accurate leg, converting all three of his field goals, including a 52-yarder against Seattle and his sole extra point attempt.
At this time, the Broncos can carry a maximum of 90 players on the roster. With Evan Mathis signing in Denver, someone had to go. Connor Barth drew the short stick, but it was only a matter of time before he was released anyway.
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