No problem there. Smith is a few percentage points ahead of his friend in Carolina.
As for Scifres, the punter had no idea how good he was at his side job.
A better way to judge holders would be to calculate how many snaps they've mishandled, or how many times they've rescued a bad snap. That, of course, would be virtually impossible to calculate. Smith has no choice but to fess up to his last mistake: an extra point in the Super Bowl the year the Colts won the title.
"It was raining really hard. I was not prepared for it," he said. "It's nothing really to talk about it. I just didn't handle it. Thankfully it was one of those things at the end of the day didn't make any difference, but you never want that."
Not long ago, most holders were quarterbacks. Backups such as Koy Detmer and Jeff Rutledge stayed in the league as long as they did only because they were such good holders. Tony Romo held the job with Dallas until his infamous botched hold in a playoff loss in January 2007.
Nowadays punters are expected to hold — they have more downtime to work with kickers than the busy QBs — and punters who can't hold can have a harder time finding NFL jobs.
That's why Smith started learning to hold while in college, initially with his right hand — which looked a bit awkward — before changing to his left. At a recent Redskins practice, long snapper Ethan Albright spat out wayward snaps from the JUGS machine to test Smith's range.
"He's smooth," Albright said. "He reached out and grabbed it with one hand and put it down."
Asked to reveal his holder secrets, Smith said: "Having good hands, being calm and having a good work ethic. I work really hard at it. A lot of people think I'm crazy for working hard at something so repetitive, so seemingly easy."
Smith also has versatility. He ran 21 yards for a winning touchdown on a fake field goal in 2003, and — lest anyone forget — he's also a pretty good punter. The Redskins went through three punter-holders last season, and the special teams suffered as a result. Shaun Suisham led the league in missed field goals, and Washington ranked last in net punting average.
"Hunter's a punter," Danny Smith said. "It's been a long time since we've had one of those."
But what's the final verdict on Hunter Smith's standing as a holder? To give him his due, he's been reliable for a full decade, much longer than Koch, Scifres and most anyone else with a high percentage. He was also the holder when Vanderjagt had the most prolific perfect season ever — 37 for 37 (40 for 40 including playoffs) in 2003. That was part of Vanderjagt's run of 42 in a row from 2002-04, still the NFL record.
So maybe, just maybe, he is the best. But if so, shouldn't he belong in the Hall of Fame?
Hunter Smith laughed again.
"I don't see that happening," he said.
NOTES: Coach Jim Zorn has always frowned on rookie hazing, so it was a surprise to see rookies Kevin Barnes and Robert Henson taped to the goal post after Monday's practice. "I don't do any organized hazing," Zorn said. "This would be a little more disorganized." ... After sitting out last week's game, RB Clinton Portis will see his first preseason Saturday against Pittsburgh. "You won't see him past the first quarter," Zorn said. "You may not even see him to the end of the first quarter."
Whole new debate for fans: Who's the best holder?
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