Broncos preseason: Brandon McManus wins job with consistency


It’s been an incredibly interesting year for Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus, but things might finally be taking off for his NFL career.

McManus was acquired in a trade right around a year ago at this time for the Broncos, who were going to be without Matt Prater for the first quarter of the season due to a suspension. McManus apparently impressed the coaches enough in that time that John Elway felt confident enough cutting Prater, who was fresh off of the best season for a kicker in Broncos history.

The decision to cut Prater wasn’t overly popular, but it made a lot of financial sense. It did, however, put the Broncos in a significant bind at the position. McManus was still really raw and not consistent in his field goal accuracy. He can kick the ball a mile, but getting it through the uprights was another story.

The Broncos brought in Connor Barth to take over field goal duties while McManus made his way to the practice squad in case Barth couldn’t handle kickoff duties. That turned out to be exactly the case.

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McManus was re-signed to the active roster, and finished the year as the Broncos’ kickoff specialist. This offseason, the team put him and Barth in a competition and said ‘let the best man win’ because there was only one kicker making the team this season. McManus took it to heart, changed his technique a bit, and apparently made it known with two preseason games left that he was ready for the job to be his alone.

“It’s consistency,” GM John Elway said. “He’s got such a great leg. He’s had a good offseason. He’s really kicked well during training camp. I think that year under his belt has helped him a lot. Confidence wise, he’s got a lot. It gave us the confidence in him that he could be that guy.”

The day Barth was unloaded in Denver, McManus made 12-of-12 field goals in practice sort of putting the punctuation on his particular roster battle, but also proving the coaches right in that instant. The key now, of course, is going to be his consistency over the course of the season kicking for the Broncos. We know he can kick off, but can he put it through the uprights?

“I think [Head] Coach [Gary] Kubiak touched on it more than anybody else,” Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis said. “I think [it was] just the consistency factor. He (McManus) has done a great job and then you throw in the kickoffs. It was a tough decision because Connor has been a very good field goal kicker in the league. But the combination of both kickoffs and field goals, we felt that at this time Brandon is definitely our best option.”

That’s comforting from your special teams coordinator, but McManus himself seems really comfortable with the job as well. He was pretty excited about his renewed opportunity as the kicker of the Broncos, and feels confident he is indeed the man for the job.

“When I hit that 70-yarder two weeks ago, it kind of gave me the opportunity to remove the jab step that I wanted to do when I was in New York,” McManus said. “Then once I was traded here, I didn’t want to switch it up in the middle of the season. It kind of gave me a chance to remove that because of how tall I am at 6-4. If I take that jab step, I could end up with a huge plant foot and could really spray the ball a lot, accuracy wise. I was able to remove that last year and kind of at the back end of the last season I was able to work on it in practice. I wasn’t getting the team reps, but I was able to work on my new stance and had a full offseason to work on kickoffs, just directional stuff. That’s what my focus is on this year…

I knew what I was capable of doing and I just had to come out there and prove it to, not only myself, but to the team—my teammates, who see me in the locker-room every day, to coach Kubiak and to the office upstairs—that I was the right [kicker] to keep.”

Next: Evan Mathis plans on being ready for Ravens

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