Kevin Huber

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/7/22

Today’s practice squad transactions:

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

  • Signed: OL Roy Mbaeteka

New York Jets

  • Signed: OL Sam Schlueter

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bengals Waive P Kevin Huber; KR Brandon Wilson Reverts To IR

Nearly three months after breaking Ken Riley‘s record for games played as a Bengal, Kevin Huber is now available on the waiver wire. The Bengals moved on from the longest-tenured punter in team history Monday.

Huber has not played since Week 9. The Bengals had promoted offseason challenger Drue Chrisman from their practice squad in mid-November, and the younger specialist has handled punts over the past three games. The organization will fully pivot to the younger specialist, though special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons said (via Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson, on Twitter) the prospect of Huber sticking around on the practice squad — assuming he clears waivers — as a mentor is in play.

Kevin was our punter for a very long time,” owner Mike Brown said. “We appreciated every moment he was here. He has been a steadying force for us, an excellent player and a good person. Any football team would be blessed to have him for the length of time we did.”

Huber, 37, is a Cincinnati native who suited up for the Bearcats before being drafted by the Bengals in the 2009 fifth round. The Bengals and Huber agreed on five contracts since, most recently partnering up on a one-year, $1.8MM deal in May. A 2014 Pro Bowler, Huber played 138 straight games from that season until his demotion this year.

Although Lee Johnson‘s 259 career games surpass Huber’s, the latter has long been the longest-tenured punter in Bengals history. Only Sam Koch and Dustin Colquitt punted in more games for one team this century. Huber also served as the Bengals’ field goal holder throughout his stay with the team.

While teams almost never carry two punters on their active roster, Chrisman has been a gameday elevation during this audition of sorts. Chrisman, 25, caught on with the Bengals as a 2021 UDFA. Huber beat Chrisman out for the job last season and this year out of training camp, but the Ohio State product is averaging a strong 51.2 yards per punt. In his nine-game run this season, Huber was at 43.2 — his lowest figure since 2010. Chrisman does not have enough punts to qualify, but his 51.2-yard average would rank second in the NFL.

Additionally, the Bengals are not activating kick returner Brandon Wilson from the reserve/PUP list. Sidelined since suffering a torn ACL in November 2021, Wilson will revert to season-ending IR. The Bengals designated the young returner for return from the PUP list in November but needed to activate him by Monday in order to avoid this outcome.

Wilson served as Cincinnati’s primary kick returner from 2019-21; he notched kick-return TDs in 2019 and ’20. The Bengals have three injury activations remaining and will keep them in their pocket rather than use one on the sixth-year special-teamer. Running backs Chris Evans and Trayveon Williams have seen time returning kicks this season.

Bengals Activate DT D.J. Reader

D.J. Reader is back. The Bengals have activated the defensive tackle from injured reserve, according to Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic (on Twitter). Cincinnati also promoted wideout Trenton Irwin and punter Drue Chrisman from the practice squad.

Reader inked a four-year, $53MM deal to join the Bengals in 2020. He was limited to only five games during his first season in Cincy thanks to a quad injury, but he returned to start all 15 of his appearances in 2021. The defensive tackle finished the campaign with 43 tackles and a pair of sacks, and he added another 12 tackles and a sack in four playoff starts. Thanks to his regular season performance, Pro Football Focus ranked him ninth among 108 qualifying interior defenders.

The 28-year-old started each of the Bengals’ first three games this year, compiling 10 tackles. He suffered an MCL injury in September that shelved him for a few months, but he returned to practice earlier this week and is now in line to take the field tomorrow in Pittsburgh.

Chrismas is getting a chance to be Cincinnati’s punter despite Kevin Huber‘s presence on the roster. According to Dehner (on Twitter), Chrismas will have a chance to earn the full-time gig, and Huber has “been in the loop”on the team’s plan. Huber’s 2022 salary is guaranteed regardless of how things unfold. Huber has struggled this season, with his 43.2 yards per punt misrepresenting his lowest average since 2010. Chrismas, a 2021 UDFA out of Ohio State, has spent the majority of his career on the Bengals practice squad.

Irwin has earned promotions in each of the Bengals’ last two games following Ja’Marr Chase‘s injury. The 26-year-old wideout has gotten into 11 games in four seasons with the Bengals, collecting six receptions (including three this season).

Special Teams Position Battles In Cincinnati

The Bengals’ special teams room has looked mostly the same for 14 years. Bengals coach Darrin Simmons has held the role of special teams coordinator since 2003, adding “assistant head coach” to his title for his 19th and 20th seasons in Cincinnati. It appears, though, that changes could be in the making as Simmons adjudicates position battles including the team’s longest-tenured players, according to Jay Morrison of The Athletic. Both punter Kevin Huber and long snapper Clark Harris will face position battles in camp for the first times in their long careers. 

Huber is entering his 14th year in the league. All 14 have come with the Bengals, who drafted him in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of the University of Cincinnati. Huber is 20 punts short of 1,000 and one game shy of setting a franchise record for games played as a Bengal. Despite his extreme familiarity with the franchise, Huber is facing a position battle that should have occurred last year.

Drue Chrisman signed as an undrafted free agent with the Bengals after six years at Ohio State in 2021. The Cincinnati-native from La Salle High School chose to stay close to home for his first NFL signing. The strong-legged challenger was set to compete with the long-time veteran Huber before a broken hand shut Chrisman down. He was waived before the regular season and signed to the team’s practice squad. The Bengals released him in mid-October and the Steelers scooped him up two months later, just to release him after only two days. Cincinnati quickly re-signed him to the practice squad until releasing him in mid-January. Chrisman signed a reserve/future contract with Cincinnati a week before they would appear in the Super Bowl.

Now, Chrisman is back, hand intact, to challenge Huber for his job. According to Morrison, while Chrisman’s leg strength is a plus and the battle will surely judge punting factors such as hang time and directional accuracy, Chrisman’s true test to win the job will be his ability to handle the duties of holder, a role commonly assigned to punters and backup quarterbacks. If Chrisman can show a reliability holding for rookie sensation Evan McPherson on field goals and extra points, the Bengals may have no choice but to go with youth and award Chrisman to job.

One may think that Huber’s 14 years of holding snaps from Harris gives him an unfair advantage over Chrisman. That may be true, but Chrisman may not be at too much of a disadvantage as Harris, too, will face competition in training camp for his job.

Harris is headed into his 16th year in the NFL and his 14th with the Bengals. Harris served double-duty in college as a tight end and long snapper at Rutgers. As a redshirt sophomore, Harris led the Big East in catches, yards, and touchdowns for a tight end. He received first-team All-Big East honors for three straight years. Harris was drafted in the seventh round of the 2007 NFL Draft by Green Bay. He spent time on the practice squads for the Packers, Lions, and Texans in his first three seasons, finally making his NFL debut as a long snapper in Houston when starter Bryan Pittman was suspended for four games. After being released from another practice squad, Harris was signed midseason by Cincinnati to be their long snapper.

Harris has been extremely reliable for the Bengals. Since signing with the team in 2009, Harris has missed only three games and has never had an unplayable snap. Unfortunately, Harris got on the bad side of his long-time position coach during the team’s Super Bowl LVI loss. While McPherson gained further notoriety around the country for skipping locker room adjustments to watch the Super Bowl halftime show, Harris’ participation (and influence) in those antics drew the frustration of Simmons, according to The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. Simmons found himself needing to make “a few critical adjustments” that required shifting personnel in a few packages, but the constant of every package was on the field with the rookie kicker watching the show. When asked if the situation was all water under the bridge, Simmons replied, “It’s not under the bridge. I’m still floating on the float. It is what it is.”

Whether a result of the halftime stunt or just a reaction to Harris’ growing years, the Bengals brought in University of Pittsburgh first-team All-American long snapper Cal Adomitis as an undrafted free agent this offseason. Adomitis also won the Patrick Mannelly Award, given to the best long snapper in the country, in his fifth and final year with the Panthers.

Harris has reportedly responded well to the newcomer, reporting for offseason activities in the best shape he’s been in during recent years and “(working) his tail off” to prepare to fight for his job.

Both Huber and Harris have the talent, experience, and familiarity to win the starting jobs. But Chrisman and Adomitis have plenty of talent and the youth to back it up for potentially 14 years to come. As Huber and Harris head into contract years, will the Bengals stick with experience or ride the youth movement along with their second-year kicker?

Bengals Re-Sign P Kevin Huber

Kevin Huber will be back in Cincy next season. The Bengals announced (on Twitter) that they have re-signed the veteran punter. Huber is inking a new one-year deal with the organization.

Huber has been with the Bengals since being selected in the fifth round of the 2009 draft. He’s spent his entire 13-year career in Cincinnati, garnering a single Pro Bowl appearance. He’s the franchise’s career leader in every major punting category, and last season, he tied Ken Riley for the most regular-season appearances in Bengals history. The punter will now have an opportunity to set that record in 2022.

While Huber’s yards-per-punt average took a minor step back in 2021, the 46.4 average yards was still better than his career mark. The 36-year-old was also busy in the postseason, compiling 16 punts in four games.

“I feel like I’m kicking the ball better than I have in years past as far as strength-wise so I’m not worried about my strength and my endurance for the season,” Huber said last year (via Taylor Weiter of WCPO.com). “It’s just tweaking some mechanics I think is what I’m going to focus on this offseason and I think I’ve got plenty of leg to last for several more years.”

Bengals Re-Sign P Kevin Huber

For the 13th-straight season, Kevin Huber will be punting for the Cincinnati Bengals. The team re-signed the veteran special teamer today, per the NFL’s transaction report.

Huber has established himself as a Cincinnati legend over the years. Following a pair of All-American seasons for the Cincinnati Bearcats, Huber joined the Bengals as a fifth-round pick in 2009. Since that time, the punter has only missed a pair of games for Cincy, earning both a Pro Bowl nod and first-team All-Pro recognition in 2014. Huber owns a number of franchise records, including punts (914) and punting yards (41,362). Huber has also appeared in the fourth-most games (190) in franchise history, and he could break the team record (207, held by defensive back Ken Riley) by playing two more seasons.

Huber had another steady season in 2020. The 35-year-old collected 71 punts for 3,350 yards, with his 47.2 yards per punt serving as a new career-high.

The Bengals special teams units may look a bit different in 2021. The team re-signed long snapper Clark Harris, but they watched as starting kicker Randy Bullock left for the Lions.

Contract Details: Lotulelei, Bradham, Lewis

Let’s take a look at the details from the latest contracts signed in the NFL:

Bengals To Re-Sign P Kevin Huber

Kevin Huber has played football in just one city since high school, and the Bengals saw to it that wasn’t going to chance despite another team expressing interest in their longtime punter.

Cincinnati agreed to a three-year deal to keep Huber on Wednesday, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The Bears had shown interest in prying Huber away, with Owczarski calling it a “strong push” to lure the specialist to the Windy City, but he will stay in his home town.

A 2014 Pro Bowler, Huber has been the Bengals’ punter since the 2009 season. The 32-year-old former Cincinnati Bearcat has been part of all six Bengals playoff appearances in that span.

Bears Interested In P Kevin Huber

We have punter news. The Bears have spoken to Bengals free agent Kevin Huber, a source tells Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter).

The Bears’ own punter, Pat O’Donnell, is a pending free agent. It’s unclear whether O’Donnell is still in their plans, or if they are just safeguarding themselves in the event of O’Donnell’s departure.

Huber has been the Bengals’ punter ever since entering the league in 2009. In 2014, he earned his first and only Pro Bowl selection. Last year, he set a new career watermark with 46.6 yards per boot.