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O'HARA: Giving up not an option for Kasey Redfern

No matter how heavily the odds have been stacked against him, Kasey Redfern has never felt like he's been beating his head against a brick wall in trying to win a job as a punter in the National Football League.

Some day – in the right circumstance – he might kick a hole through that wall.

The odds – again – are against that happening this year with the Detroit Lions, where Redfern's situation in training camp is similar to what he faced the previous three years with Jacksonville, the then-San Diego Chargers, Carolina and Cleveland.

There is one major difference with the Lions this year. Sam Martin, one of the NFL's elite young punters, is not participating in camp because of an ankle injury sustained in the offseason. While Martin rehabs the injury – with his return likely at some point in the preseason – Redfern is the only punter in camp.

The bottom line is that Redfern is filling the position until Martin returns, but that does not diminish Redfern's desire to compete or to continue pursuing his dream of punting in the NFL.

At least for now, Redfern is the Lions' only punter, but that hasn't changed his approach.

"My mindset is, I'm not letting anything change," Redfern said. "Every year I've been out, I've been focused on getting better and being the guy wherever I can and taking this opportunity to grow from such great vets I have around me and such great coaches."

Giving up has never been an option – not after being cut by the Jaguars in 2014 and '15, or in 2016 when he was cut by the Chargers, traded by the Panthers and cut by the Browns.

"I feel like this is my passion, for as long as I can remember," Redfern said. "I've had dreams of playing pro football ever since I was little. Doors have opened that allowed me to get here.

"That's one thing I learned: Just keep persevering. That creates a better character. It's been tough, but I just can't give up. It's something I feel called to do. I keep striving, keep pushing – keep working."

Redfern's career log isn't different than a lot of punters and kickers who bounce around trying to land a job.

Redfern, 25, was signed by the Jaguars during the 2014 offseason after his senior year at Wofford. He was with the Jaguars through the final preseason game in 2014 and '15. However, it was clear that he was signed as a so-called "camp leg" to save regular Jaguars punter Bryan Anger for the season.

View photos from 2017 Detroit Lions training camp practice on Aug. 4, 2017.

Redfern took advantage of the Anger management. He started the 2014 preseason strong and finished it the same way. He punted five times in Game 1 for a gross average of 46 yards and a net of 44.2. On eight punts in Game 4 he had a gross average of 48.5 yards and a net of 40.5.

He also attempted five field goals throughout the preseason, making three with one block and a miss from 54 yards.

He had a lesser workload in 2015, just five punts and again being released on the final cut.

As often is the case for kickers and punters, the merry-go-round began to spin for Redfern after departing Jacksonville.

He was signed to the Chargers' practice squad in December of 2015, and then to a future contract in January of 2016. He was cut and signed by the Panthers in August, then traded soon after by the Panthers to the Browns.

Redfern was with the Browns for six days – long enough to punt four times in the final preseason game before being cut.

The Lions signed him in April, with Martin rightfully entrenched as the No. 1 punter.

All in all, life is good for Kasey Redfern on all fronts. He set up a private coaching clinic for young punters last year. He was married to his wife, Lauryl, five months ago. And he feels like he is punting better than ever as he continues to pursue his dream of making it in the NFL.

"I feel the strongest and healthiest I've ever felt," he said. "In my eyes, as long as I keep getting better, I'm going to keep going at it."

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