Jason Sanders can envision Carli Lloyd (or any qualified woman) kicking in the NFL: ‘A 55-yarder is still a 55-yarder.’
DAVIE — Jason Sanders missed only three kicks as a rookie last season, but even if he’d made them, it may not have been enough.
Can you be better than perfect?
Sanders thinks so.
Sanders was impressive enough last season that the Dolphins didn’t bother bringing in competition for him in training camp, as they did for nearly every other player.
Sanders shrugs at the compliment.
“To me, it’s no matter if there’s another guy in here or not,” he said. “I’m always going to go out on the practice field and compete against myself. So if I go out there and make all my kicks, it doesn’t necessarily to me mean I had a good day.”
Sanders said “different factors” tell him if it was a good day, such as how the ball comes off his foot and if it’s flying properly.
“There’s always different ways to get better,” he said. “You don’t want to just survive, in other words.”
Sanders did more than that last year, going 18-of-20 on field-goal attempts and 35-of-36 on extra points. Only three kickers in the league had fewer combined misses.
Sanders arrived as a seventh-round draft pick out of New Mexico. Former Dolphins special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi likely deserves credit for discovering Sanders, because Sanders’ senior stats of 10-of-15 on field goals didn’t scream NFL prospect.
Rizzi is now with the New Orleans Saints and keeps in touch with Sanders on occasion via text.
Sanders, meanwhile, took this offseason as a chance to recharge, since he never could last year.
“I definitely took a lot more time this offseason than I did the previous offseasons,” Sanders said. “I took at least two full months of not kicking before I even tapped a few balls.”
Sanders has two brothers in the Air Force, one stationed in Delaware, the other, New Mexico, so he visited both. He fished, golfed and watched the United States win another Women’s World Cup.
And, yes, he also saw the viral clip of U.S. star Carli Lloyd kicking a 55-yard field goal.
“Anytime you see a 55-yarder kicked, it’s always impressive,” Sanders said. “I don’t care if someone’s taking 10 steps, five steps, two steps. A 55-yarder is still a 55-yarder.”
“Not bad,” Sanders said. “I think it’s a good start for someone that hasn’t really kicked a football. There’s different factors that go into an NFL field-goal operation, but there’s nothing nobody can’t learn.”
So it’s not hard for Sanders to envision a woman kicking in the NFL.
“If you can kick a football and you’re better than an NFL kicker, why can’t you be an NFL kicker?” he said. “There’s only one goal to kicking field goals.”
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