Henery struggling, Eagles unsettled at kicker
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Turns out the Philadelphia Eagles have competition for a starting job: kicker.
Coming off a poor performance in a playoff loss last January, Alex Henery has missed two of his three field-goal attempts in the preseason, including a 31-yard try in Philadelphia's 31-21 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
Henery made a 36-yarder against the Steelers. He missed a 47-yarder last week at New England.
''I wish I could put my finger on it,'' coach Chip Kelly said of Henery's problems. ''I don't know what he's battling. But obviously you have to make a field goal like that (from 31 yards). You have to make it.''
Rookie Cody Parkey, acquired from Indianapolis on Wednesday night, arrived in Philadelphia in time to play. He made his only extra-point attempt and had two kickoffs into the end zone.
''We obviously needed to bring someone else in, and that's what we did, and we'll see,'' Kelly said. ''We've got another week.''
Henery was drafted in the fourth round in 2011 to replace two-time All-Pro David Akers, who wasn't re-signed following his fifth Pro Bowl season with the Eagles. Henery set a franchise record for best field-goal percentage when he made 24 of 27 kicks (88.9 percent) as a rookie. He was 27 of 31 in 2012 and 23 of 28 last year.
Henery had a costly miss from 48 yards in a 26-24 loss to New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs. He also struggled on kickoffs. After the Eagles rallied for a 24-23 lead in the fourth quarter, his line-drive kickoff was returned to the 37 by Darren Sproles. That helped set up the game-winning drive.
Kelly was critical of Henery after the game, but the Eagles didn't seek a veteran replacement in the offseason. They signed undrafted rookie Cary ''Murderleg'' Spear from Vanderbilt. But Spear has struggled so badly in training camp that he hasn't even attempted a kick in the preseason games.
So the Eagles got Parkey from the Colts to challenge Henery. Parkey led the NCAA in touchbacks last year at Auburn, but made just 14 of 19 field goals. He was 2 for 2 for the Colts, including a 45-yarder. He seems to have more leg strength to drive the ball on kickoffs.
The defending NFC East champions didn't have any interesting battles for starting spots until the Henery-Parkey competition developed.
''If outside influences are going to affect you, then that's something you've got to deal with,'' Kelly said. ''You know what I mean? There is going to be competition at every position. Our job is to make sure we put the best players out there and the guys that give us the best chance.''
If the Eagles want a proven veteran, they could dial Akers' number. The 39-year-old six-time Pro Bowl kicker is a free agent and still has a strong leg. He posted a video of himself on his Facebook account hitting a 60-yarder this week.
AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi