ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Last week, after releasing Brandon McManus, Broncos Head Coach John Fox suggested that the cannon-legged first-year kicker would get another shot at some point.
"He just needs to go back and work on his swing, so to speak, and I think he'll be back," Fox said.
That work will be in Denver, as the Broncos signed McManus to their practice squad Thursday, giving him a chance to develop and, perhaps make another run at the full-time job.
When the Broncos waived McManus to make room for Connor Barth, he was deep in a slump that saw him make just five of his last nine field-goal attempts, including a pair of misses in which he hit the upright. But as he struggled on placekicks, he remained among the league's leaders in touchbacks, ranking third in the league with a touchback percentage of 75.0.
That McManus possesses one of the league's strongest legs is not in question, and slumps for young kickers are not uncommon. Even long-term elite kickers such as Adam Viniatieri had first-year struggles similar to those of McManus.
And adding a kicker or punter to the practice squad late in the regular season is not unusual for the Broncos. They signed Britton Colquitt to the practice squad late in the 2009 season, and the punter ended up earning a job the following summer.
If the Broncos choose to sign McManus to a reserve-future contract after the season -- or to bring him back to the 53-man roster at some point -- it could set the stage for a fierce competition next summer. For now, McManus can quietly work on his craft, with his goal of being the Broncos' long-term kicker still intact.
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