AP Sports Writer
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - It will no doubt hurt when Washington Redskins kicker Kai Forbath finally misses a field goal.
It hurts when he makes them, too.
Forbath is one of those kickers who wears a smaller shoe on his kicking foot _ a much smaller shoe. While his left foot takes his normal size of 10 1/2, he shoehorns his right foot into a size 7 1/2 to create a hard-as-possible surface for making contact with the ball.
Still, It's as painful as it looks.
"It's not something you'll keep on your foot very long," Forbath said. "I don't do it because it feels good."
Forbath learned the trick as a freshman at UCLA, and it's served him well. He won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker as a junior in 2009, and his first steady NFL work could hardly be going better: He's made all 10 field goal attempts since joining the Redskins last month.
"You're going to try and jinx him now?" long snapper Nick Sundberg told a reporter Monday when asked about Forbath.
Success through the uprights can be a touchy subject with the Redskins, who are on their 19th kicker in 18 seasons and have by far the NFL's worst field goal percentage (73.7) since 1995. If Washington (5-6) is going to make a playoff push, there needs to be some degree of comfort that a drive that gets inside the 30 will almost always yield three points.
Forbath was the choice after Billy Cundiff missed five of 12 attempts to start the season. Forbath won an off-day tryout over retread veterans Olindo Mare and Josh Brown.
"I always take a look at those other couple kickers, and they've been cut for a reason. I'm not sure why," coach Mike Shanahan said. Forbath "was a guy that nobody really even talked about. You watched him kick, and he won it legitimately against two other veterans that have been in the NFL for a long time. Usually when you handle pressure, it transfers over to game situations."
Like most young kickers, Forbath needed to make stops in multiple NFL cities before finding a regular season job. He signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2011 but hurt his quad during the lockout and ended up on the non-football injury list. This year he was in training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as essentially the token competition for Connor Barth.
The Redskins like Forbath because he doesn't sweat the small stuff. He's not rattled if Sundberg's snap or Sav Rocca's hold aren't spot-on every time.
"I have a couple of things that I'm thinking about when I'm kicking, and I can't let the other things distract that," said Forbath, who, like all NFL kickers, hits the ball soccer-style with the instep of his foot and not the tip. "When it starts rippling down to, `Oh, no, I'm worried about the snap.' Then `I'm worried about the hold,' then that's when things go wrong."
Sundberg said youth makes the 25-year-old Forbath less fussy.
"I don't think about anything, and I've talked to him about trying to do the same thing," Sundberg said. "Don't listen to the crowd. Don't listen to anything. Don't listen to Sav. Just when you see the ball, go. And let your muscle memory take over and do what you know your body is capable of doing, and he's done an excellent job of that."
Forbath's one miscue has been an extra point attempt that was blocked because he kicked it too low. He also is trying to master the art of the kickoff _ he's been a field goal specialist for much of his kicking life. He actually changes footwear for kickoffs, wearing a full-cleated version of the very tight shoe instead of the one with the shaved cleats he uses for field goals.
Forbath admits his kickoffs still need work.
"It's just something you've got to get comfortable with, in a groove, and we're working towards that right now," he said.
But there's no doubt he's in a groove when it comes to the other part of his game. His latest big kick was a 48-yarder that helped stave off the Cowboys in the 38-31 win on Thanksgiving day.
"You have to feel confident every time you go out there," said Forbath, whose parents lived in Hawaii and named him after the Hawaiian word for "ocean." "If you start doubting a kick, that's when things tend to go wrong."
Notes: LT Trent Williams played much of the Cowboys game with a deep thigh bruise in his left leg and did not practice Monday. ... The Redskins placed rookie LB Keenan Robinson on injured reserve and signed LB Roddrick Muckelroy. Robinson tore a pectoral muscle against the Cowboys and will have surgery this week. Muckelroy has played in 19 games with the Cincinnati Bengals. He missed all of last season with a ruptured Achilles.
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(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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