Folk, Brown have eyes on winning Jets’ kicking job

Nick Folk and Josh Brown have known each other for a few years,

good friends in a tight-knit NFL kicking fraternity.

They’ve trained together, kicked a ton of footballs together and

shared tips. Now, they’re in training camp with the New York Jets –

and after the same gig.

”I have every intention of winning the job,” Brown said, a

serious look in his eyes.

”Yeah,” Folk said when told of Brown’s comment, ”and I’m here

to keep my job.”

Sounds a bit contentious, huh? But they both insist it’s really

not. They’re approaching things exactly as they both expected.

”We have no problem with each other,” said Folk, entering his

third season with the Jets. ”We’re both kind of rooting for each

other. I know that sounds kind of awkward, but I guess that’s who

we are as people. It’ll be a good competition for however long this

preseason is, and I think we’ll push each other to the limit.”

Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff is counting on

exactly that.

Folk is coming off an up-and-down year in which he started off

strong by making his first 11 field-goal attempts, breaking the

team record of 10 straight from the start of a season. He finished

19 of 25 on field-goal attempts, and was re-signed in March.

Despite being mostly satisfied with the 27-year-old Folk, the

Jets (No. 17 in the AP Pro32) knew having a real competition in

training camp would be ideal. So, in planning for the NFL draft in

April, Westhoff came up with a few kickers he thought would be

great additions.

”But we weren’t in a position to take them as the draft

materialized and that goal I had very prominent in my mind was

gone, and I understand that,” Westhoff said. ”Then, I had to

figure out how to create this competition, and Josh was absolutely

the best guy to do that. He’s a very viable candidate and he’s had

a lot of success in this league.”

The 33-year-old Brown was released by St. Louis in April after

the Rams drafted his potential replacement, Greg Zuerlein. Brown,

who was entering the final year of a five-year, $14.2 million deal,

is a career 81 percent kicker but was 21 for 28 on field goals last

season. He spent his first five seasons with Seattle, earning a

reputation as one of the league’s most consistent kickers.

”I wanted to make this as viable a competition as I possibly

can, and I think that’s what it will become because you’ve got two

guys, and each ones have had some ups and downs, but they’ve had

some ups,” Westhoff said. ”So we’re going to push that to the max

and go from there. I think it’s going to be a very good

competition.”

And one that each is certain that they will win.

”I want this job,” Brown said. ”I want a job in the National

Football League, but I want this job. You have to be confident. You

have to know that you’re capable of winning a job. Nick knows it,

and I know he’s capable of winning this job. There’s mutual

respect. It’s not an arrogance thing. You come in expecting to win.

I have to come in thinking this is my job and he has to beat me.

That’s my mentality.”

The two have had some solid days, and others not so consistent,

particularly in the first few days of camp. They were both perfect

Monday, when Westhoff made a small tweak to the practice schedule.

Instead of having the two kick field goals at the end of practice,

as they normally have, Westhoff had Folk and Brown kick a bit

earlier.

”You’ve got these kickers who have gotten out there early and

then they’ve been on their feet standing there, loosening or

whatever for 2 1/2 hours, pushing 3 hours,” Westhoff said. ”And

then it’s like, `Let’s go kick some field goals.’ Well, come on.

That’s silly. So, I changed that and I think I saw a little bit of

a better performance.”

Folk said the first few days were spent getting their timing

back with punters T.J. Conley and Travis Baltz, who serve as the

holders, and long snapper Tanner Purdum. The kickers have also had

to get readjusted to kicking with pads on again.

The two first met in 2008 when Folk was with the Cowboys and

Brown with the Rams and their teams played each other. They’ve

worked out several times in the offseason, including this past

spring in San Diego with many other kickers and punters at training

sessions hosted by former Pro Bowl kicker John Carney.

When Brown signed with the Jets, he sent Folk a text message to

let him know and to alleviate any potential stress in what could be

a touchy situation.

”I’ve got nothing bad to say about him,” Folk said. ”It’ll be

a good, fun competition. It’s tough because only one guy is going

to make the team. But I think we’re both rooting for each other

because whichever guy doesn’t make the team, we hope he catches on

with someone else and goes out and has a good year.”

But both, of course, have every intention of sticking around

with the Jets.

”I think the tension is there, but it’s not so thick that we’re

talking about it,” Brown said. ”We’re not talking trash to each

other, and we’re not going after each other verbally. It comes down

to whoever the Jets feel most comfortable with in a game-winning

situation.”

NOTES: CB Antonio Cromartie told ”ESPN First Take” on Tuesday

that he would rank himself as the second-best wide receiver on the

team behind Santonio Holmes. He could be used at the position in

certain spots, but has taken only one snap there during camp. ”I

haven’t really played it in the past four or five years, but I can

put myself as the second just with raw ability and talent going out

there, I think, me separating and being a more physical guy out

there on the outside,” he said. … The Jets had their first day

off from practice Tuesday, but return to the field Wednesday

morning.

Follow Dennis Waszak on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DWAZ73

Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and

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