EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Josh Brown and Brandon McManus will be among the first subjects in the NFL's semi-grand summer extra point experiment.
The Giants and Buffalo Bills will be the first teams to attempt PATs from the longer distance when they meet Sunday night in Canton, Ohio. Brown, a 12-year veteran, is both participant and interested observer in the trial,
"I am absolutely interested to see what happens," Brown said. "I think it definitely makes kickers more valuable than they already are. It makes every point more important than it's ever been and it just brings a new flare to the game, a new dynamic. With all of the changes that they are making, I don't think that this is an unreasonable change. PATs are pretty much given; you can make most of them blindfolded. I think it's a fun addition. We'll see what happens with the excitement that it brings through the first two games of the preseason."
Brown is competing for the Giants' kicking job with McManus, who scored a school-record 338 points at Temple University from 2009-12. He is also eager to see and to try extra-long extra points.
"It definitely will be an adjustment, but obviously we've done a good job," McManus said. "Every kick we take as our normal extra point during the field goal period has been from the 15-yard line, so we've got some work with it. I think it will add an interesting dynamic if it's bad weather or pretty windy. In the preseason games, they're looking to get some data to see if it is worth doing in real life. Eventually, if there are weather conditions and they do move it back, I think it definitely will add a little more nerves to the kick."
The NFL is looking to make extra points more difficult and add some drama to a play that recently has all the action of a timeout. Last season, kickers missed just five of 1,267 extra-point attempts, a conversion rate of 99.6 percent. No team missed more than one extra point try.
In his career, Brown has made 341 of 343 PAT attempts. That's a tidy 99.4 percent. He made all 31 of his tries last year and hasn't missed one since 2010.
"It's almost a free point," Brown said. "I'm completely in favor of (attempting them from a longer distance)."
In four seasons at Temple, McManus succeeded on 158 of 161 PAT tries. That's "only" 98.1 percent.
"The extra point was getting almost automatic," McManus said. "The quarterbacks are getting pretty good at the forward pass, so we might have to make them throw underhand. The extra point, you do have to make the kick, but I don't think it's too automatic yet."
The league's owners considered experimenting with the line of scrimmage on PATs at the 25-yard line, but settled on the 15.
"It's now a 33-yard field goal, there's still room to miss," Brown said. "There's error there. A lot of guys take PATs off mentally. It's like a layup, not a free throw, it's a layup. You hit it in the same part of the glass and it goes in every single time. It sometimes can be thoughtless. This is going to be an interesting addition to see how guys engage mentally. You can't take it off. You slough through it, you'll miss it."
The experiment sets up the potential scenario of teams attempting field goals that are considerably shorter than extra points. If, for example, an offensive possession stalls at the two-yard line, a coach might elect to try a 20-yard field goal – the length of a normal PAT.
"We have not kicked a field goal less than 33 yards (in practice) because that's where we start, that's what we're getting used to," Brown said. "We actually brought that up in our group meeting the other day - we need to start kicking some shorties in case we get stopped."
It should be an interesting two-plus weeks, which is a rarity with NFL extra points.
Know Your Opponent: 2014 Buffalo Bills