20 Sep 2006
With the signing of Morten Andersen, the Michael Koenen experiment in Atlanta is now over. Koenen will punt, kick off, and handle any 50-yard field goal attempts. Andersen will take care of the short stuff. And Frank Corral remains the last player to serve as both a punter and a kicker for a full season.
Corral kicked and punted for the Rams in 1980 and 1981 after kicking for the team in his first two seasons. He finished seventh in the NFL in punting average and converted 17-of-26 field goal attempts 1981. But one awful game took away his job security. Corral missed three field goals and had a fourth kick blocked in a 20-17 loss to the Niners. The Rams entered that game 4-3. They would finish the season 6-10.
The next off-season, the Rams brought in youngsters John Misko and Mike Lansford to punt and kick, respectively. The Rams had signed young "camp kickers" in the past; Corral would rest his leg during training camp and coast through preseason games. But in 1982, the Rams started tracking the progress of their three kickers carefully. Corral didn't ramp up his effort in response to the new competition. "I wasn't going blow-to-blow with those guys," he told The Sporting News. "They were kicking the thunder out of it. If I tried to do that, I could have blown my leg and ruined my career. Besides, I've never been a pretty practice kicker." Misko said that he easily outpaced Corral on punts. "Let's face it, he's not Ray Guy," Misko said.
The Rams didn't mince words when they released Corral in favor of Misko and Lansford before the 1982 season. "Frank never came down to practice once during the off-season," Rams coach Ray Malavasi said. "Then when he comes to training camp he simply goes through the motions. Maybe he'll learn from this."
Corral (who was born in Chihuahua, Mexico) fired back at his former coach. "Ray can say that I'm a dumb, dirty, bean-eating Mexican, but don't fool the public and tell them I can't kick anymore," he said in The Sporting News. But Corral, whose $125,000 was high for a kicker of the era, would never kick or punt in the NFL again. Misko punted for three years in Los Angeles but wasn't very good. Lansford kicked for the Rams throughout the 1980s. Their 1982 salaries combined were less than Corral's. Ironically, the Rams ditched their kicker-punter for the same reason the Falcons created theirs: to save money.
(For more on Koenen and other two-way kicker-punters, read this week's Too Deep Zone, running Friday on FoxSports.com and Football Outsiders.)
Our offseason Four Downs series ends with a look at the NFC West's biggest remaining holes and their most notable UDFA signings. The Rams and 49ers have to kick-start their passing games, Arizona's offense lacks a big dimension, and the Seahawks continue to rely on Russell Wilson's magic tricks.