There isn’t an epidemic of NFL kickers blowing out knee ligaments similar to baseball’s rash of ulnar collateral ligaments replacement surgeries.
Still, Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop draws a parallel between kicking and pitching as it relates to workload.
“We’re kind of like pitchers,” Succop said. “A pitcher can’t go out and throw every day. If he goes out and pitches every day, his arm’s going to have all kinds of problems. We’re kind of the same way. We try to put a number on how many reps we hit each day. It’s really quality over quantity. I can’t go out and kick 100 balls every single practice or I’m going to run into all kinds of problems.”
Succop is the most accurate field goal kicker in Chiefs history at 80.95 percent, but that didn’t stop coach Andy Reid from bringing in a challenger — Cairo Santos, a rookie from Tulane.
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Of course, Succop, who went 22 of 28 last season and only seven of 12 on kicks longer than 40 yards, doesn’t seem to mind.
“It’s been great,” Succop said. “Obviously, Cairo is a fantastic kicker. It’s been really awesome just having him here and the two of us being able to go at it and compete. I think we both push each other and we both make each other better. You really couldn’t have asked for more than that.”
During Monday’s practice, Succop and Santos waged a nifty back-and-forth battle with each connecting on all five field goals during special-teams drills.
The drama and tension was akin to a penalty-kick shootout in soccer, Reid said.
“I’ve heard his analogy a couple times,” Succop said. “I thought it was pretty funny, but we don’t look at it that way. We just go out and try to kick the best that we can each and every day.”
During special-teams drills Wednesday, Santos became the first kicker to blink when he hit the left upright as Succop was again perfect on five tries.
Preseason games also will help settle the battle and, while Succop doesn’t mind the competition, it doesn’t mean he isn’t feeling some nerves.
“No matter how long you’ve kicked, you talk to guys who have kicked for 15 or 20 years in the NFL and they still get that little feeling in their stomach before a field goal,” Succop said. “I think it’s a good thing, because it really sharpens your focus. Hopefully, that never changes. Hopefully, you always get that.”