Cardinals punter Andy Lee boots the ball in Washington.
Punting looks easy enough. Catch the ball, kick the ball. But there are intricacies, from the rhythm of the snap to the direction of the boot.
Andy Lee admits there were some growing pains in his first season with the Cardinals, since he wasn't signed until six days before the opener and then lost long-snapper Aaron Brewer to an injury for eight games.
But as the season winds down, he is punting well. And for a team that has dealt with more than its fair share of issues at the position the past few years, that's important.
"I guess you could call it a groove," Lee said. "You get more comfortable."
In the first nine games of the season, Lee's net punting average was less than 40 yards in five different contests. Since then, it has only happened once, which was the result of Pharoh Cooper's long punt return for the Rams in Week 13.
The past three weeks have been especially solid. Lee has averaged 47.2 yards per punt with a net of 43.3 yards. He has six punts that have been downed inside the 20 against only one touchback, and opponents are averaging only 6.4 yards per return.
For the season, Lee has averaged 46.8 yards per punt and 41.1 net, which is significantly better than the 41.9 yard average and 37.0 net the team registered in 2016.
The Cardinals cycled through punters Drew Butler, Ryan Quigley and Matt Wile a year ago, and neither Wile nor Richie Leone claimed the job out of training camp. Lee was brought in on a two-year deal, and said he would "love to be back here" in 2018.
Lee believes a full offseason of continuity would help, and the 14-year veteran believes he has plenty left physically.
"I guess technically I'm 35, so in this league I'm old," Lee said. "But it's not like I'm ancient. For what I would have expected at 35, I feel really good."
STACKING SUCCESS FOR NKEMDICHE
It took nearly two full seasons, but former first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche made a splash play, returning a fumble 21 yards for a score in Sunday's 23-0 win over the Giants.
Defensive coordinator James Bettcher was happy with Nkemdiche's play throughout the game, and hopes he can build on that in the season finale against the Seahawks.
"I talked to him before we went into meetings today," Bettcher said. "The only thing I said to him was, 'Let's stack. We had a performance in the game where you were disruptive, where you got off the ball, played hard, you played physical. You had an opportunity to scoop and show a little bit of your skill.' But the biggest thing right now is we need to stack two for him. That's all we need to do. We need to stack two, and get it going into next season."
JOHN BROWN LIMITED IN PRACTICE
Wide receiver John Brown (toe) was limited in practice on Thursday after sitting on Wednesday. Tight end Troy Niklas (ankle) and guard Earl Watford (ankle) also returned to practice in a limited capacity, while cornerback Patrick Peterson (ankle) practiced in full.
Linebacker Josh Bynes (ankle) did not practice.
For the Seahawks, defensive end Michael Bennett (knee/illness), tight end Jimmy Graham (knee), guard Luke Joeckel (foot), defensive tackle Nazair Jones (ankle), linebacker Bobby Wagner (hamstring), linebacker D.J. Alexander (concussion), safety Earl Thomas (knee), and tackle Matt Tobin (illness) did not practice.
Limited for the Seahawks were tight end Luke Willson (ankle) and cornerback Shaquill Griffin (hamstring).
Images from past matchups between the Cardinals and the Seahawks