Monroe hopes his kicks help him stick

Every undrafted free agent faces an uphill battle in his quest to make the roster. For punter Brian Monroe, that hill is especially steep. In front of him is Mike Scifres, a young and immensely talented punter with five years left on his contract. Although some see San Diego as a hopeless landing spot for Monroe, he believes he is in a terrific situation.

During his four years as a starter at Miami, Brian Monroe averaged 39.8 yards on 235 attempts. He had his best season as a senior, averaging 39.8 yards per kick with a long of 74 yards. A versatile athlete, the 6-foot-1 Monroe worked at wide receiver during spring practices prior to the 2006 season.

He will stick to kicking in San Diego and is delighted to have the opportunity to do so.

"The Chargers are the best team in the league and I am excited to be here," Monroe said. "It was kind of intimidating to be around so many star players at first, but after a while everybody started joking around and taking the edge off."

He knows the odds of him ousting incumbent punter Mike Scifres are slim, but that won't stop him from trying.

"I'm here to compete," he said. "If you come in just trying to win a spot on the practice squad, then you've lost already. I am coming in to try to win a spot. If that doesn't happen and I just get some good film out of it, then that's okay, too."

Even if he fails to make the roster, Monroe will get more out of his time in San Diego than just an audition tape. He will also have the benefit of working with Scifres, an intelligent kicker who will help improve Monroe's control and consistency.

When Scifres came into the league, he learned under Darren Bennett, who taught him to use an end-over-end kicking style when pooch punting. Now, Scifres is passing that unique technique on to Monroe.

"He started to show me how to do it during Mini Camp," Monroe said. "He said he'll show me more as the offseason goes on."

There is a chance, albeit a slim one, that Scifres and Monroe could both make the roster. Monroe can kickoff as well, which is an area where Nate Kaeding never really distinguished himself.

Monroe would love the chance to stay in San Diego, and not just because of the weather. He has greatly enjoyed working with the Chargers' coverage units.

"I got a chance to work with the first team on the first day of Mini Camp," Monroe said. "Antonio Cromartie and Kassim Osgood were the gunners and those two are amazing athletes. They make you want to kick with better hang time so they get downfield and make a play for you."

When the regular season starts, Scifres will likely be the one benefiting from such stellar coverage. However, it is too early to write off Monroe. Players with his combination of versatility and productivity seem to have a way of sticking around.


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