While Sav Rocca remains one of just two of the Eagles' restricted free agents to not sign his tender - guard Max Jean-Gilles is the other, Durant Brooks is at the NovaCare Complex every day putting himself in the best position to win the punter job for this upcoming season.
A former sixth-round draft pick of the Redskins in 2008, Brooks has experienced the ups and downs of the NFL in just a short time. He enjoyed the thrill of making the roster and played in six games as a rookie, but spent all of last season out of football after not making the Packers roster out of training camp.
Brooks said that it was a nagging hip injury that led to his exit in Washington and kept him from making the Green Bay roster in 2009. The injury is a topic that Brooks does not like to discuss, but he did say that he has learned how to control the problem through therapy and exercise.
"I don't like to talk about it because I'm better and I've moved on from it," Brooks said. "In Washington, I didn't punt as well as I should have. It's a business."
While a drafted punter has more leeway in making the final roster, there is also the pressure to deliver immediately. Now, Brooks comes in to Philadelphia without any fanfare. He is using the off-season conditioning program to make the necessary corrections to his game so that he'll be rolling once the post-draft mini-camp gets underway.
"If you want to tweak anything this is the time to do it. You want to go into camp having everything down and not thinking about technique or anything like that," Brooks said. "Right now, I'm working on consistency. That's really the key to the game. You don't have to have a 5.0 hangtime every time, but you want to have a good consistent punt. One coach called it a C(-grade) punt. You want to have A and B punts, but no C punts."
A winner of the Ray Guy Award, which goes to the top collegiate punter, while at Georgia Tech, Brooks set the NCAA record for most punts of 50 yards-or-more in a two-year span with 57. Rocca has set records of his own in Philadelphia during his first three years with the team. He has set the team's single-season net punting average record in each of the last two years.
The key to success in net punting is a combination of distance, accuracy and coverage scheme. Brooks is happy that he's not going to have to face Pro Bowl punt returner DeSean Jackson anymore. Jackson returned a punt for a touchdown during Brooks' tenure in Washington.
"A lot of returners are getting really good. One of them is here, DeSean. Thank God he's here," Brooks said. "You want to be pretty good at directional if you need to do it."
It will be interesting to see how this position battle shakes out, especially with new special teams coordinator Bobby April. It was April who worked out Brooks before the Eagles signed him in February.
"It'll be a good competition. I'm just pushing and giving it everything I've got right now," Brooks said. "(This time) is very crucial. You get a chance to work with the guys and the whole team, the coaches. Show them how hard you work. Show them that you want to be here. If you work hard, I think it'll pay off when training camp comes and the preseason."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 12:50 a.m., April 9