ST. JOSEPH, Mo. —Todd Haley said he wasn't worried. Ryan Succop's two misses Friday were each 53 yards, and it would be unreasonable, the Chiefs coach said, to expect his kicker to be reliable from that distance.
Still, Haley wanted to see if the young kicker could do it.
Succop was 1 for 3 on field-goal attempts during Friday's loss in the preseason opener at Atlanta. That's the kind of performance that might attract some anxiety in different seasons, especially considering where the Chiefs have been while it searched for a consistent kicker. But the fact that the two misses were, if nothing else, disappointing shows how far Kansas City's kicking situation has come since it selected Succop with the last overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft.
"When you get into that position," Haley said, "it's just not going to be a high-percentage kick. The first one looked real good to me. The second one, it didn't look like he hit it quite the same way, by any means. Those are tough positions to put your kicker in."
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Succop said early in training camp that he trusts his leg from distances that might give other kickers the shakes. Said he made one from 65 yards during offseason workouts. Said he'll try any kick if his coaches send him out for a try.
So it was disappointing Friday when Succop hit the left upright the first time and later hit a wobbly line drive that missed badly. Succop made a 53-yarder last year, his career long in a rookie season that gave the Chiefs more confidence in a kicker than they'd had in years. The team seemed doomed in that time to erratic kickers, whether they were drafted (Justin Medlock), veterans (John Carney and Lawrence Tynes) or rookie free agents (Connor Barth). Then Kansas City grabbed Succop with the pick known as "Mr. Irrelevant," but those inside the Chiefs organization knew that a dependable kicker was as relevant to anything to the team's improvement.
Succop made 25 of his 29 attempts last year, the best rookie season by a Chiefs kicker since Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud.
Haley said he wasn't so much let down in Succop as he was the Chiefs offense for putting him in that position. On the play before Succop's first miss Friday, quarterback Matt Cassel was sacked for a six-yard loss, making a difficult kick even tougher. Then running back Jackie Battle was stopped for a four-yard loss on third-and-2 on the next possession.
"I'm more disappointed that we put him in those (situations)," Haley said of Succop.
Succop had departed the locker room Friday by the time reporters entered and was therefore unavailable for comment.
Haley has said that he admires his kicker's attitude perhaps as much as his strong right leg. Haley said Succop doesn't get rattled, regardless of the situation - whether it's a 20-yard chip shot like the one he made Friday at the end of the second quarter, or the 22-yarder in overtime he made at Arrowhead Stadium in last year's win against Pittsburgh. So Haley said he didn't expect that Succop would be bothered by missing those two long-range kicks against the Falcons.
And, Haley said, the Chiefs wouldn't be bothered, either. Not unless it becomes a trend, anyway. That's something Haley said he wouldn't expect, based on what he saw Friday night.
"That guy's working hard to do a good job," Haley said. "When you get out in that range, if you expect those all the time, you're going to be disappointed."