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Titans tell Kimrin the kicking job is his to lose

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ola Kimrin knows he has a strong enough
leg to kick in the NFL. The second Swede to play in the NFL now has
his best chance so far to earn a roster spot.

The Tennessee Titans signed Kimrin in February to a one-year
contract and the team promised to bring in other kickers for
competition, but this job is his to lose.

"He's going to have to kick under pressure, and that goes
beyond out here on the practice field," coach Jeff Fisher said.

"He's done very well for us, but he's going to have to kick and
make kicks in the preseason in a competitive situation. Then, of
course, we're also looking for the kickoffs. We have to get the
ball up in the air and deep down the field."

The Titans have looked at a couple of Arena Football League
players for the position, but Kimrin is the only kicker signed. He
isn't taking anything for granted.

"Anything can happen in this league, but it's good," Kimrin
said. "I'm glad I was the first one in. That might give me an edge
maybe. It all comes down to how straight you kick them."

The 33-year-old Kimrin is living a story that almost sounds too
good to be true.

He had played only soccer until he tore an ACL in one of his
knees in 1991. Some of his friends talked him into trying to kick a
football after he recovered.

Kimrin walked on at Texas-El Paso and handled kickoffs for the
Miners. He has played three seasons in NFL Europe and went to
training camp with Denver, Dallas and most recently Washington.

Kimrin kicked a 65-yard field goal in the final exhibition in
2002 -- 2 yards longer than the NFL record held by Tom Dempsey and
Jason Elam -- but didn't get a job with the Broncos because Denver
already had Elam, who had cheered him from the sideline.

Finally, Kimrin became only the second Swedish-born player to
play in the NFL last season when he replaced John Hall with the
Washington Redskins. Before Kimrin was Bjorn Nittmo, who played six
games with the New York Giants in 1989.

Kimrin went 6-for-10 on field goals last season with Washington.
But visa problems kept him from finishing the season when an injury
ended Hall's season, and Kimrin wound up signing with the Georgia
Force in the Arena Football League only to be waived in January.

Then the Titans came calling for the services of the 6-foot-3,
230-pound kicker. The franchise loves dependability in a kicker and
has only had three since relocating from Houston in 1997.

Al Del Greco left after a playoff loss in January 2001, Joe
Nedney was released in February after missing the past two seasons
with injuries and Gary Anderson, the NFL's career leading scorer
who filled in for Nedney the past two seasons, was ready to return
to retirement and his fly fishing business in Canada.

Kimrin had been hoping that someone would at least bring him in
for training camp as he tries to keep alive his NFL dream.

"This worked out great. Already signed in February, and here
now working out. It's fun," he said.

Kimrin has been busy working out with the special teams coach
Alan Lowry, holder/punter Craig Hentrich and snapper Ken Amato. He
works on kickoffs on Mondays with field goals on Tuesdays and
Thursdays.

But Kimrin isn't getting too settled in. He and his wife are
staying in an extended stay hotel and his family back home in
Malmo, Sweden, keep learning about American-style football.
Meanwhile, he works on improving his accuracy.

"If you can kick it straight, if you just get into this league,
you can stick around," Kimrin said.