Brandon McManus, one year to the day after he joined the Denver Broncos via trade from the New York Giants, can take a moment and have sigh of relief. After a very intense and close competition with friend and teammate, Connor Barth, McManus has his job back.

After going 9-of-13 on field goal attempts to start the 2014-15 season with the Broncos, McManus was waived November 25 just to be resigned 12 days later. It was an up and down season to say the least. Wednesday morning the team released Barth, who took his place as the field goal kicker after November 25, subsequently giving McManus his job back.

“One, it was exciting to kind of get the trust back that they lost in me last year. It felt good coming out today as well. Obviously, he (Barth) was on the team last year with me, so we do have a bond and a friendship with one another. It’s tough to see that, but, like I said, it was exciting for me to get that trust back and to win this job back,” McManus said just moments after Wednesday’s practice.
He joined the team in 2014 in order to replace Matt Prater but struggled with his accuracy. It was a problem that led to Barth’s arrival and his demotion to strictly kickoff duty. Coming into the offseason, under a new coaching staff, it was clear that both Barth and McManus would not remain on the final roster.

While Barth had to show improvement in the length and height of his kickoffs, McManus had to prove to the coaches that his booming leg came with dependable accuracy. The competition had been fierce throughout camp and into the preseason contests. Ultimately it was McManus’s consistency and strength that won out.

“Obviously, kicking off,” Head coach Gary Kubiak said Wednesday as too why McManus won the job. “That’s the biggest thing. If we’re going to find a way to do this with two (kickers) and not with three, then somebody’s got to have a dual role or be able to do both one way or another for us to get that done. I also think Brandon has kicked extremely well. He’s been very consistent. Today, it looked like he was very consistent today in what he was doing. It’s us showing confidence in him and it’s up to him to in turn do his job and do a great job. We have a lot of confidence in him.”

McManus had been working extremely hard on his accuracy all offseason but he always knew he was not far off from being the kicker he knew he could be. Despite his struggles last year and the move to bring Barth in, he never waivered from his goals.

“Personally, some guys lose confidence. I never did in myself. I don’t know if that’s my personality or my mental strength, but I never lost confidence in myself. I knew what I was capable of doing and I just had to come out there and prove it to, not only myself, but to the team—my teammates, who see me in the locker-room every day, to coach Kubiak and to the office upstairs—that I was the right (kicker) to keep.”

He undoubtedly possesses the leg strength but what got him in trouble last season were his attempts from 30-plus yards. He missed 2-out-6 between 30 and 50 yards and missed both of his attempts past the 50 before he was replaced. Despite the misses McManus knew he wasn’t far off from being on target and ready to be the starting kicker.

“It was more frustrating that some of my misses last year, two out of my four, hit the uprights. That’s kind of more frustrating, not that I was so far offline. I knew I had a good swing, they felt good, they just didn’t kind of fall my way.”

Barth was signed by Denver for the last five weeks of the regular season in 2014 due to McManus’s issues and he immediately took advantage of the opportunity. Barth converted 15-of-16 (.938) field goal attempts and all 15 PATs during the season. He made 11 consecutive field goals and twice hit five field goals in one game which tied a franchise record.

However, Barth’s lack of consistency while kicking off for the team this preseason was his ultimate downfall. The new coaching staff was adamant about not keeping two kickers as the team did last year and someone had to win the job. McManus commented on the life of a NFL kicker Wednesday and was very complimentary of Barth.

“We built a friendship last year and we both know how difficult this business is and it is kind of a revolving door for us kickers and punters. You’re always coming in to compete with each other because they are only keeping one of you,” McManus said. When asked if Barth would find a new job, he answered quickly. “Absolutely, I think the year he had last year coming in for me was great. People say he can’t kickoff. He can. I even worked with him a little bit.”

McManus revealed how he has become so powerful on kickoffs and the tips that he gave to Barth in recent weeks.
“For me, I just think that when kickers go beyond five yards for kickoffs it is not very smart because you are going to kick lower balls. You saw him (Barth) kick a 65-yard field goal the other day. That would be a kickoff to the goal line. Just back up two more yards and swing away at it. I think that more and more kickers are coming shorter. I think the shorter you are the more smooth you will be, the better contract you will get.”

McManus has won a vital and important job for the Broncos. Kubiak and special teams coach Joe DeCamillis have placed their stamp of approval on the second year kicker to be clutch and accurate on a big stage. McManus said Wednesday, “I’ve always considered myself pretty mentally tough. I always had people growing up that said I wasn’t going to be good enough so I always had something to prove.” Well he will have his chance to prove his toughness on a grand scale and second chances do not come often in the NFL. Everyone will be watching for the proof, starting Saturday.


The Broncos held their first joint practice with the San Francisco 49ers Wednesday in shoulder pads and helmets under a scorching sun at UCHealth Training Center. The practice was surprisingly calm and professional considering the joint practices held around the league this summer.

Emmanuel Sanders and Larentee McCray remained out of practice for the second week. The starting defense looked particularly impressive on one session of team drills versus the starting offense of the 49ers. Aqib Talib batted down a pass on first down, Von Miller had a sack on second down and finally Malik Jackson clubbed a Colin Kaepernick pass at the line of scrimmage.

The offensive line struggled at times in on-on-one pass protection drills. Peyton Manning also was intercepted by safety Antoine Bethea on a out-route intended for Cody Latimer. Safety Eric Reid intercepted Brock Osweiler just minutes later on an overthrow to tight end Dominique Jones.

Just hours after the team released Barth, McManus proved to spectators why the coaches had made that decision. McManus went 12-for-12 during the practice from distances ranging from 30 to 50 yards. The 49ers practiced their punt team with a Broncos scout return team. Both team’s finished practice with goal line and two-minute drills.

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