Elam misses former holder Plummer
Vail, CO Colorado
ENGLEWOOD ” With strong-armed Jay Cutler under center, it would seem impossible to find anybody at the Denver Broncos training camp who misses Jake Plummer.
Kicker Jason Elam does.
The Broncos’ career scoring leader has struggled getting used to his new holders at training camp.
Twice this week, the 15th-year pro has missed three field goals in one practice as he adjusts to Cutler and punters Todd Sauerbrun and Paul Ernster holding for him.
“The last couple of years I had Jake Plummer and he was so good, he was a great holder,” Elam said Friday. “He had really quick hands and got the ball down fast for me so I could have a real long look.”
Elam isn’t pointing fingers. He said it’s just a matter of adjusting to his new cohorts.
The Broncos and their fans aren’t accustomed to seeing the three-time Pro Bowler struggle. He holds team records for most career field goals (368) and best career percentage (.802) as well as extra points made (568) and points scored (1,672).
Last year, he converted 27 of 29 field goal tries for a franchise-best .931 average.
So, the crowds at camp and his teammates have been doing double takes as his kicks sail left and right.
Special teams coach Scott O’Brien said it’s just a matter of working out the kinks, and Elam said he’s not overly concerned, either.
“Everybody in the league has to deal with getting that operation down every year and getting the timing back, so I’m not worried about it,” Elam said. “I’m sure it will come around real quick.”
It’s not like his mechanics are a mess or his mind muddled.
“I’ve got it surrounded, the last two days I’ve kicked I hit the upright twice,” he said. “But I feel really, really strong. I feel probably stronger than I have the last couple of years, really good offseason workout. So, more than anything it’s just a little timing issue. It’s just completely me. I’ve got to get my timing back.
“It’s not like I’m missing them 15 feet left or 20 feet right. I’m inches away from being right on.”
Plummer was supplanted by Cutler as the starting quarterback with five games to go in 2006 and retired shortly after the Broncos traded him to Tampa Bay last offseason.
Elam has found himself in this position before, adjusting during camp to a new crew.
He was spoiled by having Tom Rouen as his holder for eight straight seasons.
“I just knew what he was thinking. I had so much of a comfort level that the ball was going to be where I needed it to be,” Elam said. “So, now I’ve had a bunch of different holders the last few years. It’s not ideal. It’s not what a kicker wants to go through. But it’s what everybody has to deal with.”
What made Plummer such a good holder was his uncommonly quick reflexes.
One time two years ago, against the Giants at the Meadowlands, Plummer mishandled the snap from Mike Leach but still managed to grab the ball and put it down in a split second for a stunned Elam to kick it through the uprights on one stutter step.
“He just shocked me how fast he got it down,” Elam recounted. “But he was just so fast. His hands, he could spin the laces, he could get his hands out of the way. He was just really good.”
Elam would like for the new holder to be determined by the team’s third preseason game.
“Whoever it’s going to be, I would probably push: Please, let me have the guy who’s going to be the guy so I can really start honing it on it and get into a real good rhythm,” he said.