Seeing Sebastian Janikowski hobble off the field in their latest game has the Seahawks preparing a rarely seen alternative for field goals and points after touchdowns.
Their rookie Pro Bowl punter drop-kicking them.
That’s what Michael Dickson was doing Wednesday at the start of the team’s indoor practice open to the media.
It’s just in case the 40-yard Janikowski falls again and doesn’t get up and play on as Seattle’s placekicker, as he did Sunday night during the win over Kansas City. The Chiefs’ Jordan Lucas was trying to block a field goal in the third quarter but instead landed onto Janikowski’s plant leg and knocked him to the turf. The roughing-the-kicker penalty caused Janikowski to feel back pain the 19-year veteran has had at times this year. Janikowski hobbled off to the sidelines after Lucas hit him.
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That made the Seahawks consider what they’d do if Janikowski would be unable to kick in the upcoming playoffs.
While Dickson hurriedly practiced some kicks into a net along the sideline, a few plays later the Seahawks’ drive stalled again. Janikowski hobbled back onto the field and made a 28-yard field goal.
The 22-year-old Dickson, an Australian Rules Football player from age 8 to 18 in his native country, then drop-kicked the ensuing kickoff for Janikowski.
“He’d drop-kick, yep. He’s dropping it,” Carroll said of what Dickson would do if the Seahawks need him to put the ball through the uprights for points. “We’ve worked on the snaps and all that, so he’s ready to do that.”
As you can see in the video above, Dickson was still working on his drop-kicks of field goals, four days before Seattle’s playoff-warmup against Arizona in the regular-season finale. The NFL went from 1941 to 2005 without anyone doing that in a game. When he was a quarterback for New England Doug Flutie drop-kicked an extra point for the Patriots in their 2005 regular-season finale. That was the first successful drop kick in the NFL in 64 years.
On its national broadcast of the Seahawks’ win over Kansas City Sunday night NBC showed Dickson drop-kicking a 55-yard field goal through the uprights during pregame warmups.
Dickson said Wednesday following practice he’s still working with long snapper Tyler Ott on how far to line up in the backfield for drop kicks for points. The standard depth for place kicks is 8 yards. Dickson is Seattle’s holder at that spot for Janikowski. A drop kick for points would not use a holder but a direct snap from Ott to Dickson.
Dickson said he’s been practicing different depths up to 10 yards. He missed a couple tries on slicing line drives wide in both directions at the start of practice Wednesday. Then Janikowski walked over to offer pointers. From a distance it appeared to be Janikowski showing Dickson how to drive his kicking leg through the ball and follow through with a more exaggerated lift of the leg.
Viola! Dickson made his next few drop-kicked field goals, from a distance of about 35 yards.
Dickson drop-kicked two kickoffs after Janikowski fell Sunday night. The first one sailed to the Chiefs 3-yard line, and got returned only to the 17. The second one wasn’t nearly as successful. It careened out of bounds and gave Kansas City a gift drive start at its own 40.
Carroll broke out a Tin Cup/golf-slang term for Dickson’s second kickoff.
“I loved the first one. The second one, he kind of chili-dipped it to the left and OB,” Carroll said.
“He’s one-for-two the last couple of weeks, so we’ll see.
“I have total confidence to have him do that. I have no problem with him doing it by situations, weather, winds, whatever. We’ve got a lot of things that he can do that if we need him. He can jump in. I really wouldn’t hesitate. You see how deep he can kick the ball, so...and he kicked the ball in the end zone, too. So he can do that if we need to.”
Last week Dickson wowed Carroll and everyone else who saw it when the rookie punted a ball 45 yards directly into a garbage can. It was only the third time Dickson had ever tried that trick, after Carroll put him up to it before a practice.
Then Wednesday, once again, Dickson was out alone on the indoor practice field 40 minutes before he teammates were due to be out there, punting, shagging his own balls and punting some more.
That is how he became the first rookie punter selected to the Pro Bowl in 33 years last week.
That, and obviously unique talents few in the NFL has seen.
“It’s pretty exciting.” Carroll said. “He’s an exciting weapon for us.”