The Jets are months away from opening the 2021 regular season and the competition for the starting kicker job is already heating up.
Asked recently about the two kickers jockeying for the position this offseason—veteran Sam Ficken and undrafted rookie Chris Naggar—special teams coordinator Brant Boyer had nothing but positive takeaways from what he's seen thus far.
"It's a good competition so far," Boyer told reporters last week. "I think they're both doing a nice job, I think there's so much to be told from here to training camp and from training camp to the preseason. So, we'll see what happens. They're both doing a nice job so far. And you kind of take it as you see it from there."
Ficken is returning to Gang Green after kicking in green and white for 24 games over the last two seasons. While his accuracy improved this past season, he only appeared in nine games due to injury. That opened the door for Sergio Castillo and Chase McLaughlin to suit up in the remaining seven games of the two-win campaign.
Boyer added that he's hopeful Ficken can rebound after last year's lingering groin injury. Ficken is entering his fifth season kicking in the NFL, a veteran option for a young team this season.
As for Naggar, undrafted this offseason out of SMU, Boyer said he was particularly impressed with the kicker's interview. With the pandemic keeping teams from meeting with undrafted players in person, a 20-minute Zoom call was instrumental in deciding Naggar's fate.
"It's unfortunate that you can't get these guys and you can't see him kick in person," Boyer said. "I really liked his rise on the ball that he has, he's got upper-level leg strength, he's got very good rotation on the ball that he kicks."
Naggar nailed 17 of the 21 field goals he took at SMU this past season, his first full-time kicking opportunity at the college level after transferring from Texas.
"I think that it says a lot from being a guy in Texas that was behind to scholarship guys that comes back and battles and doesn't quit and everything like that," Boyer said. "He transferred to SMU, comes out and wins the job and does a heck of a job in the year that he got the chance. I think it says a lot for a person."
As Boyer alluded to, this competition is only just getting started. With Week 1 of the preseason just under two months away, now is the time for Ficken and Naggar to show why they're deserving of a starting gig this fall.
Even if those decisions won't be made just yet, Boyer's comments make it clear that Ficken isn't guaranteed playing time for a third year in a row.
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