No one has experience edge in Saints kicker battle

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The New Orleans Saints have used eight different kickers under coach Sean Payton since 2006. This year, they'll make it nine.

Neither of their two young candidates -- Dustin Hopkins and Zach Hocker -- has kicked in a regular-season game before.

Here's a closer look at the specialists as I wrap up my position-by-position look at the Saints' roster battles. The Saints will hold their first training camp practice today at 8:50 a.m. ET at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia.

Position: Special teams

53-man roster projection: P Thomas Morstead, K Dustin Hopkins, LS Justin Drescher

Missing the cut: K Zach Hocker, LS Chris Highland

Analysis: The Saints are holding an open competition that feels like a reality show: "Who Wants to Be a NFL Kicker?" But while both Hopkins and Hocker lack experience, their résumés are still impressive.

Hopkins was drafted in the sixth round by the Buffalo Bills in 2013 after setting NCAA records for career field goals (88) and points by a kicker (466) at Florida State. He then made all six of his field-goal attempts in the 2013 preseason before suffering a season-ending groin injury. Last summer, the Bills cut him in favor of veteran Dan Carpenter.

Hocker was a seventh-round pick of the Washington Redskins last year, but he lost a close battle with incumbent Kai Forbath. Hocker made 2-of-3 field goal attempts in the preseason.

Both kickers tried out for the Saints last December. And though the Saints decided not to replace veteran Shayne Graham at the time, they decided to make the switch this spring.

The Saints other special teams battles are less dramatic. Standout punter Morstead is running unopposed once again.

Sixth-year long snapper Drescher was also running unopposed until the Saints signed undrafted rookie Highland from Illinois State on Wednesday. The Saints must have liked what they saw from Highland during a three-day tryout earlier this summer, but he's got his work cut out for himto unseat the steady veteran.