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OTA roundup: Former Notre Dame kicker Blake Grupe could make the roster in New Orleans

IMG_7504by:Jack Soble06/09/23


Former Notre Dame kicker Blake Grupe has a chance to make an NFL roster. He signed with New Orleans as an undrafted free agent after the 2023 NFL draft, and Saints coach Dennis Allen said he could challenge longtime veteran Wil Lutz.

“(Grupe is) kicking the ball well,” Allen said, via The Times-Picayune columnist Rod Walker. “I feel like we’ve got two really good kickers. I think there is going to be some great competition throughout training camp. And I’m excited to watch it play out.”

The competition became Grupe and Lutz was set in stone May 31, when the Saints waived their third kicker, Alex Quevedo

Grupe has reportedly impressed the Saints’ coaching staff throughout voluntary Organized Team Activities, but he had an especially good day Tuesday. According to USA Today’s Saints Wire, Grupe made all five of his field goal tries, including a 59-yarder. Notably, Grupe only attempted two field goals from 50 yards or more in his five-year college career, making one.

After four years at Central Arkansas, Grupe transferred to Notre Dame for the 2022 season. He made all 49 of his extra points, but only made 14 of his 19 field goals. Throughout his career, Grupe is 23 for 38 from 40 to 49 yards. That’s only 60.5 percent, much lower than the NFL average of 80.5 percent in 2022.

Lutz, a Pro Bowler in 2019, missed all of 2021 with an injury and struggled in 2022. He made only 23 field goals on 31 attempts, good for 74.2 percent — a career low by a wide margin.

If he wins the job, Grupe would be the only Notre Dame kicker in the NFL. He would be the first Notre Dame kicker in the NFL since Kyle Brindza, who spent four games with Tampa Bay in 2015.

The last Fighting Irish kicker to spend a full season in the NFL? You have to go all the way back to John Carney, who kicked for seven NFL teams between 1987 and 2010.

Raiders coach: “Michael (Mayer) is what we thought he was.”

Somewhat surprisingly, Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer fell to the second round in April’s Draft. Las Vegas traded up to take him No. 35 overall, and according to Raiders coach Josh McDaniels, the early returns are looking good.

“Michael is what we thought he was,” McDaniels said in a press conference June 1. “Really hard worker. Great teammate. Tries to get better every single day. Very attentive in the meetings. Works at his technique very hard. Wants to know how he can get better at being a pro.” 

McDaniels also noted that Mayer has been taking a leadership role with the rest of the Raiders’ rookie class. That’s already impressive enough, until you realize that Mayer is also the youngest Las Vegas rookie at 21 years old. All eight of the other Raiders draft picks are 22 or older.

In an article about the Raiders’ position battles on May 23, The Athletic’s Vic Tafur explicitly did not include tight end. Tafur wrote that “it’s just a matter of time before Mayer beats out veterans Austin Hooper and O.J. Howard.”

“Very excited about Michael and where we’re headed,” McDaniels said. “Long way to go.”

Preorder Blue & Gold Illustrated’s 2023 Notre Dame Football Preview magazine before June 12 and get free shipping!!! On3 subscribers should go to The Lou Somogyi Board for discounted pricing.

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