Ex-Husky Coons battling for Titans’ kicker job

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans still are looking for their new kicker with a competition so wide open and yet so close that both Maikon Bonani and Travis Coons will play against the Minnesota Vikings.

Then the Titans will sit down and try to pick a winner.

Or go looking through the waiver wire for someone else.

“At some point, you’ve got to base it off what you’ve seen them do,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday. “And if you don’t feel like they can do it, you have to look for other avenues to address it.”

The Titans decided to go young at kicker in March when they cut veteran Rob Bironas, the fourth-most accurate kicker all-time in the NFL. They already had Bonani on the roster after having the former South Florida kicker in training camp last year, and they added undrafted rookie Coons out of Washington after the draft in May.

Every kick has been charted, and both got to kick two field goals apiece in last week’s 24-17 win at Atlanta. They will rotate again Thursday night in the preseason finale. Whisenhunt said they have a pretty good feel for what both kickers are doing.

“It’s pretty close,” Whisenhunt said.

Bonani has hit two field goal attempts with a long of 51 yards, though he missed a 33-yard extra point in a pouring rain in the opener. He is considered to have a stronger leg, consistently knocking kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. Coons is 2 of 3, missing only a 63-yarder at the end of the first half in Atlanta.

A penalty in a loss at New Orleans gave Coons a chance at a 50-yard field goal, the longest made field goal of his career. That helped a kicker who made 15 of 16 field goals as a senior at Washington. The 63-yarder fell just short of the crossbar, landing in the end zone.

Bonani said he’s looking forward to Thursday night.

“That’s the closest you actually get to the regular season game because it’s the last one, and it could be the one that decides who’s the kicker,” Bonani said.

Coons is focusing on what he can control, knowing coaches will make the final decision.

“We’re both out there competing against each other, competing against ourselves and other kickers around the league that might get waived or whatever happens to them,” Coons said.

Kickers already are being released. Veteran Jay Feely was cut Monday in Arizona, and he’s someone Whisenhunt is familiar with having coached the Cardinals through the 2012 season.

This is where Bonani and Coons can draw on the kicker’s need to concentrate on the next kick.

“Just got to focus,” Bonani said. “In special teams, not only as a kicker but as a punter, as a cover guy, a snapper, it’s one and done. You make a mistake, there could be another chance for you, but it’s not right after. The spotlight is on you, and that’s something that we welcome. That’s part of our job.”

For the winner anyway.

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