The D.C. Defenders have added veteran NFL and former XFL kicker Matthew McCrane to their preseason roster as XFL teams continue to add to their rosters in training camp. In recent days, D.C. has also added former New Jersey Generals and West Virginia offensive linemen Mike Brown, who worked out for the XFL at the Hawaii player showcase this past summer.
D.C. Defenders Place Safer Bet On Placekicker Matthew McCrane
The team or league hasn’t made the McCrane signing official as of press time. However, Nick Novak, former NFL kicker and current coach/trainer at Novak Kicking and Consulting, which helped conduct a specialist-specific showcase for the XFL in October, announced McCrane’s signing on social media.
Matthew McCrane also announced his appointment with D.C. on his Instagram account. The 28-year-old veteran placekicker was one of the New York Guardians’ standout specialists back in 2020. The First-team All-Big 12 Kansas State kicker was a perfect eight for eight on-field goal attempts for New York, with a long of 53 yards. The Texas native parlayed that performance into three different stints on NFL rosters.
McCrane, an undrafted free agent in 2018, who started his pro journey with the Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders, has kicked in five NFL games, netting five touchbacks and connecting on eight of twelve field goal attempts. His experience, despite a late arrival into training camp, gives him an advantage over Defenders punter/kicker Daniel Whelan, who is also a Nick Novak-trained specialist. Whelan has an uber-strong leg and was a standout punter in college. But he has no game experience as a kicker. The Irish-born specialist wowed the Defenders’ staff in the draft process, but his raw resume could work against him.
Typically, a signing at this stage suggests that Whelan has struggled in camp and that D.C. is hedging its bets at kicker. Whelan is also competing with NFL veteran Jacob Schum for punting and holding duties. Only two Defenders’ kicking specialists will make the opening-day active roster. Because of Whelan’s dual capabilities, there was a possibility that D.C. could roster him as the team’s punter and kicker to save an extra spot. The signing of McCrane, in all likelihood, eliminates that possibility.
McCrane’s experience in XFL 2020, kicking outdoors in challenging conditions, should be an asset for the Defenders, who will have to deal with the elements in the district this February.
Former NFL linebacker and special teams standout Jamie Sharper will have some interesting decisions to make when cutdown day arrives on reportedly February 9th. Sharper will be coordinating both the Defenders’ special teams and linebacker position.
Defenders Inching Closer To Kickoff At Audi Field
The Defenders and all eight XFL teams are in full training camp mode as the league prepares for the upcoming 2023 season, which starts on Saturday, February 18th. Many of the teams in the XFL currently have nearly 70 players or more on their training camp rosters, and teams will pare down their roster to 50 in February before the regular season starts.
D.C. opens their regular season at Audi Field on Sunday, February 19th, against the Seattle Sea Dragons. An opening-week rematch from the 2020 XFL season. The popular XFL 2020 kickoff is returning. Could Matthew McCrane be handling those duties in a little over four weeks?
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