A former New England Patriots linebacker found himself in the spotlight for an unexpected reason Sunday night.
After the Philadelphia Eagles lost starting kicker Jake Elliott to a concussion early in their prime-time game against the Dallas Cowboys, they turned to Kamu Grugier-Hill to fill his spot.
Grugier-Hill, who was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round last year but cut before the 2016 season, is a core special teamer who punted in high school, but he had little placekicking experience before Sunday night. In fact, his first warmup kick was so bad that it missed the practice net entirely and shot off into the stands at Cowboys Stadium.
“I knew Kamu was the backup kicker when he came over and said, ‘Uh, how do you put the ball on the tee?’ ” punter Donnie Jones told reporters after the game, via the Eagles’ official website. “I set the ball up on the tee for him, and I moved the net over for him, and he still missed the net and his first practice kick went up into the stands. All we could do was laugh.”
That shank proved to be a fluke, though. Once he entered the game, Grugier-Hill was stunningly effective on kickoffs, booting one down to the goal line and kicking another into the end zone for a touchback.
“I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it,” Grugier-Hill told reporters. “I just wanted to make solid contact. I shanked one in a practice on the sidelines, but after that, I felt OK. I just wanted to kick it down the field and keep it inbounds and let our guys go down and make the tackle. That’s kind of how it played out.”
The Eagles didn’t give Grugier-Hill any shots at the uprights, however. They went for two after each of their final four touchdowns, converting on three of those attempts in a 37-9 rout of the rival Cowboys.
“It was pretty fun, actually,” Grugier-Hill said of his kicking debut. “Maybe if it happens again they will let me kick a field goal or a point after.”
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