RIVER FALLS, Wis. - Ryan Succop has the leg and he probably has the Kansas City Chiefs' kicking job.
What Succop needs is consistency, and he had better find it fast. Succop was the last player taken in this year's NFL draft, and the last time the Chiefs drafted a kicker, they cut him after the first game.
Succop, who has hit field goals of 58 and 53 yards in training camp, is being counted on to solve a long problem for the Chiefs. Their failure to find a good, consistent kicker is a major reason they have not won a postseason game since Joe Montana was their quarterback.
Field position, particularly the past two seasons, has been a huge problem for the Chiefs and Succop has shown a welcome ability to drive kickoffs deep.
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"It's an area that we are putting a lot of stress on, it's an area we need to be better in and we obviously know it's a big part of these games," coach Todd Haley said. "Some of the last-minute, end-of-the-game situations are the difference between winning and losing."
Succop was also impressive with both range and accuracy during an encouraging scrimmage last Saturday.
"Yeah, one was 58 and that is a big kick," Haley said. "It was 58 with a little wind behind his back but it cleared easy, it made it over my dad (sitting in the end zone)."
In 10 games last year, Connor Barth made 10 of 12 field goals, a much better percentage than the 66 percent that Succop managed his senior season at South Carolina. But Barth lacked the strong leg needed on kickoffs and the Chiefs are hopeful Succop will do better now that he is no longer dealing with a the torn abdominal muscle that bothered him in college.
"So far during camp I feel like I've been really consistent. I've made 90 some percent of my field goals during team," he said. "As a kicker you definitely have to be mentally strong. I mean you can't let anything bother you, you just got to be tough mentally. You know whether it's windy conditions or rainy, it doesn't matter you just have to go out there and just know you're going to make the kick."
Haley insists the job does not necessarily belong to Succop just yet.
"Just because Connor's not here doesn't mean I'm not competing against him. So I'm not just competing against him but every guy in the league, every guy trying to be a kicker in the NFL," Succop said.
Still, it is nice being the only kicker in camp.
"I kind of look at it as it's been a blessing for me because it's really allowed me to take all the reps so I've really been able to get comfortable," he said. "Just being able to be in that situation every day is good."