Wednesday, December 28, 2011
By KEN HAMBLETON
December 23, 2011
Alex Henery pondered the question as though his cell phone reception was breaking up.
"What? Could I be playing indoor soccer in an adult league in Omaha right now? Sure. I guess. But this gig is working out pretty well right now," he said.
Henery, easily one of the all-time Husker greats, capped a record-setting college career and was the fourth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles last April.
Although the much-mocked "Dream Team" Eagles have not performed up to expectations, Henery has lived up to his prospects.
The rookie from Nebraska by way of Omaha Burke is 11th in the NFL in field-goal accuracy (20-of-23) and he's hit all 40 of his extra-point kicks. The 6-foot-1, 177-pound kicker even has two tackles this year.
Comparatively speaking, Henery, the 120th player taken in the draft last spring, is worth every bit of his reported salary of $375,000 this year and $2.7 million over four years.
"I came in and had to re-establish myself as a kicker -- new team, new ball, bigger, faster opponents," Henery said this week from his home near downtown Philadelphia. "Kicking is kicking. I've made the technical adjustments week by week and the game has slowed down again for me.
"When you're a freshman, like when you're a rookie, the game and everything seems so fast you can't think straight," he said.
His two missed field goals in an exhibition game had Eagles fans mumbling about the team getting rid of longtime kicker David Akers.
Then Henery missed a couple more field goals, including a 63-yard attempt just before halftime of the Atlanta game, but he's hit 18 straight -- the seventh-longest streak in the NFL.
Henery came to the Eagles along with rookie punter and kick holder Chaz Henry. The two worked extensively on their timing with veteran long snapper Jon Dorenbos.
"They help me get over the bad kicks and onto the next one," Henery said.
Henery and Henry also trade off punting and kicking for a brief time in practice -- "Just in case," Henery said.
According to Eagles Insider, Philadelphia special-teams coach Bobby April said the group of Henery, Henry and Dorenbos has worked out well.
"I think he's (Alex) just getting very consistent in his daily routine and all of them have worked hard at that," April said.
The Eagles have a long-shot chance to reach the playoffs. They could win the NFL East ... if they beat Dallas on Saturday and the New York Giants lose to the New York Jets, then Philadelphia would have to win on New Year's Day against Washington.
"Things have to fall into place and we have to win our last two, but it's good to know we have a chance," Henery said. "I don't find a lot of guys talking about it in the locker room, but as a kicker, you're kind of out of it anyway. You kick. You make the kick and that's about it."
In the meantime, Henery holds his own when somebody brings up what school produces the best kickers.
"We've got Josh Brown at the Rams, had Kris Brown for all those years with Houston, Adi Kunalic just signed with Carolina and Sam Koch is still punting for the Ravens -- Nebraska is kind of a Kicker U. these days. And I'm sure Brett Maher, the way he's kicking for the Huskers, he'll be kicking in this league some day, too."