PHILADELPHIA — Eagles place-kicker Alex Henery is in that special zone where everything looks bigger.
Baseballs look like grapefruits to hitters. Basketball players launch shots toward rims that appear as big as truck tires. Golfers stroke putts toward holes that seem as large as discuses.
When Henery looks up before attempting a field goal, he sees extra space between the uprights.
“You develop a certain confidence level sometimes,” Henery said Thursday. “It’s like playing golf when you have that confidence. When the fairway looks huge, it’s a lot easier to hit it.”
Henery, a second-year player, has had that confidence all season. He enters Sunday’s game at Dallas having made a franchise-record 19 straight field goals and 20-of-21 total attempts. His only miss was on a 45-yarder in the season opener at Cleveland.
His performance has been one of the few bright spots for the Eagles in an otherwise dismal season. With the possible exception of guard Evan Mathis, Henery could be the Eagles’ only Pro Bowler when the teams are announced next month.
“Making the Pro Bowl would be really cool,” Henery said. “But until it actually happens, I won’t believe it.”
Of the 24 NFL kickers who have attempted at least 20 field goals this season, Henery is among just four who have one miss, along with Cleve-land’s Phil Dawson (21-for-21), Pittsburgh Shaun Suisham (21-of-22) and Jacksonville’s Josh Scobee (19-for-20).
Henery’s only real mistake came against Dallas on Nov. 11, when he missed an extra point for the first time in his NFL career. He is 16-for-17 this year and 62-for-63 overall since joining the Eagles last season as their fourth-round draft pick.
Back then, longtime Eagles fans were irked when the team declined to re-sign veteran place-kicker David Akers, who made the Pro Bowl last season with San Francisco. But Henery has proven to be a worthy successor. He has made 44-of-48 field goals dating back to last year. His accuracy rate of 91.7 percent makes him the second-most accurate kicker in the league in that span, behind only Scobee (93.3 percent).
He’s been on such a roll this year that his teammates have come to regard his field goals as automatic.
“Everyone on the sideline believes we’re going to get three points when Alex goes out there,” said punter Mat McBriar, who is also Henery’s holder. “And believe me, that’s not always the case with kickers. I’ve been in situations (with the Cowboys) where we were hoping for three points instead of expecting them.”
Henery, 25, has worked hard to develop his technique and mindset.
He first tried football at Burke High School in Omaha, Neb., on the advice of his high school soccer coach, Mike Bailey, but wasn’t very good at field goals and extra points. He was invited to walk on at the University of Nebraska as a punter but wound up also winning the place-kicker job in training camp.
He spent a lot of time at the Midwest Kicking Camp in Omaha, where former San Diego Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding taught him the proper technique. His mental attitude was strengthened by kicking in front more than 80,000 Cornhuskers fans who are every bit as rabid as the Eagles’ supporters.
“He has really good mechanics,” Eagles special teams coach Bobby April said. “He came in here, batteries-included on that one. He was already assembled and ready to roll.”
There’s a good chance Henery’s field goal streak will continue Sunday, since Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, was the site of some of his best college kicks.
Henery went a combined 8-for-8 during two Big 12 Conference championship games there before going 2-for-2 in last season’s 20-7 Eagles win over the Cowboys on Christmas Eve.
“I like kicking there, but my approach is the same no matter where I’m kicking or whether it’s the first quarter or the fourth,” he said. “They want everybody to do their job. My job is to make kicks and help us win games.”
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