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Elliott Fry, Brett Maher travel different paths to Broncos' kicking competition

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver's kickers are not shying away from a competition.

As Elliott Fry and Brett Maher battle for the Broncos' kicking job, they're both focused on their own process. But as Fry admitted Tuesday, they're both well aware of how the other is performing during the early stages of training camp.

"It's not like I'm hiding from it," Fry said of the competition. "We both know what we're doing. You're not focused on what he's doing. You're focused on what you're doing. But absolutely, he goes in and [attempts] one, I know if he makes or misses. I think that's vice versa."

The battle hasn't been hard to track, as Head Coach Sean Payton said there has been just one missed kick through their first three field-goal periods.

"Back-and-forth," said Payton when asked for his evaluation of the battle. "Today, I think, was our third field goal session. [It was] the first time we missed one. They're doing good."

In Fry and Maher, the Broncos have kickers with two distinctly different paths competing for the same job.

Fry, who signed with the team following the Broncos' release of Brandon McManus, has spent time with nearly a dozen teams but appeared in just three regular-season games.

"I'm really confident in what I'm doing," Fry said. "I think we're both kicking really well. I think a lot of kickers, especially during COVID, there's a lot of times where you're going in to fill in for a week, and then that guy is back. I've kicked behind a few Pro Bowlers. You go in and have a good game, but there's no real path forward, I guess. That's kind of been my career, but I'm excited to be here right now and I'm excited to compete."

Fry said the NFL can be difficult to break into, especially when you're not drafted.

"I've got a little uphill battle, but I've always been confident in what I do," Fry said. "That's kind of pushed me. It sounds kind of dumb, but if you keep getting calls, I'm not going to say no."

Maher, by comparison, has more regular-season experience. He's kicked in 54 games since the start of 2018 and played for Payton in New Orleans for part of the 2021 season. He also has faced more scrutiny, as he missed four extra points in the Cowboys' playoff win against the Buccaneers in January.

"I think what I'm learning every single year in this league is there is something that is going to test you and test your response to how you handle your business, how you handle outside stuff," Maher said. "That was a tough lesson to learn, especially in the moment, I'm sure as you guys all saw. … I feel like I've taken it as a way to learn and become more resilient and get a few more of those scars that can kind of help propel you forward."

Maher said the struggles last postseason were both mental and technique-related.

"That drove a lot of my offseason prep work," Maher said, "and I'm happy to be here with the opportunity and [to] learn from it and move forward and become better from all sorts of situations — positive and negative and certainly that one."

Maher thrived in the regular season last year, as his field-goal percentage ranked eighth among kickers with at least four attempts. He also holds the NFL record with four career field goals of at least 60 yards.

"To me, I think that's something I can bring to the table," Maher said of his leg strength. "We'll just kind of see how the chips fall, but I like kicking long field goals, and I've had a bit of success doing it."

In Denver, both Maher and Fry will aim to earn an opportunity that would be equally significant for each player, albeit for very different reasons.

The battle, though, is just beginning.

"It's going really well," Fry said. "I think we're both kicking really good right now. Taking it day by day. It's a long competition — we're only in Week 1. I think we're both just putting our heads down and trying to make kicks."

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