Houston Texans: A Punter May Be Needed: Who Could It Be?


It’s toward the end of the week and as the Houston Texans run through their practices, us fans can seem to have a better handle on who’s going to be healthy going into any given Sunday game.

Other than Arian Foster, one player’s status that they should have their eye on is punter Shane Lechler.

I know the punter isn’t regarded as much of an important position as others on the field but what they do is important.

It isn’t easy being assigned the task of not only kicking the ball but making sure that it hangs in the air long enough to drop in a specific location on the football field.

The red zone is the preferred area for the drop and punters are measured on that in terms of their total efficiency.

Lechler has been the best in this era in regard to doing that and that’s why he beloved with the Oakland Raiders as well as being a familiar fixture with the Texans.

It’s a position that involves minimal to moderate wear and tear…

It’s all dependent on their skill set because a player in that position may be asked to do more than punt like be the holder for field goal and point-after-touchdown kicks.

If one plays their cards right, they could play well into their 40s with an NFL career spanning up to about two decades — twice of what the average NFL career would last.

Sep 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Houston Texans punter Shane Lechler (9) completes a pass for a first down on a fake punt against the New York Giants during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately, they do get hurt from time-to-time and that’s what happened to Lechler this past Sunday against the New York Giants.

It seemed to be routine three-and-out with Lechler preparing to get set; but, all of a sudden, Damontre Moore came out of nowhere to stand up as mighty as King Kong to block the punt.

Moore seemed to come off so strong on that play that Lechler got off-balance, hobbled and started to limp profusely shortly thereafter.

Concerned about his status, I knew that Bill O’Brien had no choice but to turn to Randy Bullock.

He was asked to do an onside kick on a late-game push to make a play the next time the Texans got the ball.

It didn’t work…

Ryan Fitzpatrick had already thrown a pick but eventually made up for it by running in for a touchdown before the end of the game.

It wasn’t enough…

The Texans ended up succumbing to the Giants 30-17 and with their heads spinning trying to figure out what happened.

So let’s fast-forward to now…

He eventually was diagnosed as injuring his hip flexor — with as much power Moore had to block it, I’d be hurting too!

As a result, O’Brien has declared Lechler’s status as “day-to-day” as of Monday and that hasn’t changed.

He is receiving treatment for his injury but it remains to be seen what his exact recovery time will be.

Since his availability is of concern, the Texans brought in four punters yesterday — three vets, one rookie — to workout just in case they may have step in Lechler’s stead if he is not a go.

Who are they?

They are:  Mat McBriar, Zoltan Mesko, Brian Moorman and Kasey Redfern.  It’s also quite possible they elevate Chris Boswell from the practice squad.

Here’s the rundown:

Dec 22, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers punter Mat McBriar (10) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Pittsburgh won 38-31. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

  • McBriar, 35, is the legendary Dallas Cowboys’ long-time punter for eight seasons from 2004-2011.  He had brief stints with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012 and with the Pittsburgh Steelers last season but was cut before the start of this season as the team decided to go in a different direction.  For his career, he has 589 punts averaging 45.1 yards per punt with 201 of them in the red zone.  His longest career punt was a 75-yarder, a franchise record set back in 2006.  He has more than 27,000 yards of punting to his credit.  His career yards-per-punt metric is good for 10th on the all-time list. Wow!

Dec 30, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots punter

Zoltan Mesko

(14) punts the ball against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots defeated the Miami Dolphins 28-0. Mandatory Credit:

David Butler


  • Mesko, 28, was the New England Patriots punter for three seasons before moving on the Steelers as well along with McBriar.  Long criticized for his lackluster ability to create hang time with his punts as well as creating some distance with them, that’s what led to his demise with both teams — he didn’t quite give them what they were looking for.  So far Mesko has 209 punts with a 43.9 average and 74 punts inside the 20-yard line.  His longest career punt is 65 yards.  Yuck!

Dec 29, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; Buffalo Bills punter Brian Moorman (8) gets off a kick against the New England Patriots during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

  • Moorman, 38, has punted for 14 seasons — all of them with the Buffalo Bills with the exception of the 2012 season where he was cut after three games and was the Cowboys’ punter for 12 games ’till season’s end.  He is quite experienced and has shown how good he is at what he does but it’s tough to tell if there’s anything left in the tank.  His numbers have declined since that season.  He has 979 punts, averaging 43.8 yards, 281 punts in the red zone with his longest punt being recorded at 84 yards back in 2002.  He is No. 13 on the all-time list in terms of single-season punt records.  He and the New York Jets’ Robert Malone are the only two active players that have kicked for that many yards in one punt –they’re essentially tied.  Moorman has kicked for more than 43,000 yards in his career.  Intriguing.

Aug 22, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars punter

Bryan Anger

(19) holds the ball as punter Kasey Redfern (3) attempts a field goal during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

  • Redfern was a undrafted rookie that was picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars shortly after their mini-camp but was cut shortly before the start of the season.  Redfern comes out the Southern Conference’s Wofford College where he was 4th in the league in punting last season averaging 42.4 yards per and served as the team’s placekicker as well.  He did receive the conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week honors toward the middle of the season as well.  He did graduate from Wofford with a degree in accounting so I’m sure he’s hoping he can delay stepping into the nine-to-five world and continue to pursue his dream of playing the game he loves professionally.  This guy’s definitely the dark horse — we’ll have to see if he wins out the battle out of the other three.

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All in all, if O’Brien has to make this important decision, my favorite pick would be McBriar with my least favorite being Mesko and the other two falling in-between. McBriar has proven track record with his punting and can get the job done.  Redfern is unproven and could carve a name for himself if he does well!

Who knows how long Lechler could be out with this at the age of 38?!?

So they’ve got to get it right…

We shall see later this week if any of these guys will be at NRG Stadium in uniform Sunday against the Bills.

Go Texans!