EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants were happy with what they got from kicker Josh Brown in 2013. Happy enough that they signed him to a two-year free-agent contract in March. But the life of a kicker in the NFL is not a secure one, as Brown knows, so he was not surprised when the Giants signed former Temple kicker Brandon McManus to come into camp and compete with him for the job.
McManus has looked good so far. Brown has too, but McManus has uncommon leg strength and the kind of ability that could win him the job if he keeps hitting all of his field goals. He offers more on kickoffs than Brown does, because he's more likely to kick the ball out of the end zone reliably. And while it's still too early to handicap this, and much will come down to what happens in the Giants' five preseason games, the competition is legit.
"You're not over here hugging each other," Brown said before Giants practice Sunday. "There's things more important than football. There's no Tonya Hardings out here. It is cordial. But there's an understanding that, 'You're trying to take something from me. And I have three kids you're trying to take it from too.' And that's personal. But it's not his fault he's here. He's good. And they chose to bring him in. So it's up to me to be efficient and try to apply the pressure to him."
Special teams coach Tom Quinn said during minicamp that he really liked McManus and that the youngster's experience kicking in adverse Northeast weather conditions while at Temple was part of his appeal. McManus was in camp with the Indianapolis Colts last year and theoretically in a competition with Adam Viantieri, an all-time great kicker who beat him out without too much trouble. But McManus said last year's experience helped him.
"Just knowing that every day, you had to make every single kick," McManus said. "So just learning how it's a game situation every day, and then learning everything about film study and how each individual prepares. I definitely wanted to be a sponge."
Last year, the Colts had Vinatieri kicking field goals but were using punter Pat McAfee on kickoffs, so that was a different dynamic for McManus. With the Giants last year, Brown handled both responsibilities, and so McManus has to beat him out in both areas. If they both look reliable on field goals, the competition could tilt McManus' way due to the advantage on kickoffs, but he's got to show that under game conditions, and both guys know it.
"Going into a game, pressure's different, perception's different, situations are different, and I'm going to have a massive advantage because I've been in all of these situations," Brown said. "A lot of people have asked me, 'You just had the best year of your career. How does that make you feel?' It doesn't change the business aspect of this sport. So I just hope that what I'm doing and what I did last year and also the other attributes I bring through experience and wisdom, that those things will also weigh in my favor."