Broncos want to save a roster spot and keep two kickers

The Broncos are hoping they can get their place-kicker to also handle kickoffs. AP Photo/Joe Mahoney

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In the end, it's all about a roster spot, a roster spot the Denver Broncos want to use on someone else, someone other than a third kicker.

"It stresses your roster other places," said Broncos special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis. "We want to have a guy that can kickoff and kick field goals, or a guy that punts and kicks off."

And with punter Britton Colquitt having just taken a $1.4 million salary cut -- from a $3 million base salary to $1.6 million -- that, it appears the Broncos are positioning themselves to be more comfortable with keeping their veteran punter if he beats out rookie Karl Schmitz.

But the rub there is Colquitt does not kick off. That means one of the place-kickers the Broncos have in camp, either Connor Barth or Brandon McManus has to earn the double duty. Last season the Broncos had Colquitt, Barth and McManus all on the roster to close out the year and coach Gary Kubiak and DeCamillis have repeatedly said they would prefer not to have three kickers this time around and lose a potential roster spot for something else.

Thus far in their careers, Barth has been a more reliable field-goal kicker -- he was 15-of-16 for the Broncos in the regular season in '14 after signing in November -- while McManus was one of the league's best kickoff specialists. The Broncos removed McManus from the place-kicking job last year when they signed Barth after McManus had some misses in games, but Barth did not kick off like the Broncos wanted so McManus was brought back.

Barth and McManus are in a tight race in camp's early going -- DeCamillis said Tuesday they are separated by only one missed field goal attempt -- and the 29-year-old Barth is trying to show the Broncos he can be an option on kickoffs.

"Yeah, he's working at it, he's going to have to," DeCamillis said.

Barth took some kickoffs in Tuesday's practice. In the one game Barth was used on kickoffs last season for the Broncos -- against Kansas City -- the Chiefs started on their own 31-, 35-, 31-, 31-, 38-, 35-, 38- and 24-yard lines after Barth's eight kickoffs.

Barth was not used on kickoffs by the Buccaneers in 2011 or '12. And in 2010 he had one touchback in 78 kickoffs.

"All I did all offseason was work with my kicking coach up in Charlotte, (N.C.), Dan Orner, and he works with a bunch of guys kicking off in the league," Barth said. "It's showing. We kicked off the 30 today, and I hit one out of the back from the 30, and the rest off of the 35. That's what I'm trying to show. That's something that's kind of been a negative in my corner, so I am trying to show people that it's more of a technique thing and really just working on it like have in my field goals."

DeCamillis calls it all "EBDs" or evidence based decisions and that the coming preseason games will have a lot to say on the matter.

"It's pretty close," DeCamillis said. "It's been a good competition so far. We're trying to keep them at the same spots all the way across. … For the most part, it's a pretty close competition right now."