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NFL Punter Hanging Around Arlington, Waiting To Be Signed

“You never know when your last game is,” says 27-year-old journeyman NFL punter Jeremy Kapinos, as he chows down on a sandwich at a restaurant near his condo along Glebe Road in South Arlington.

In his four years in the NFL, Kapinos has punted for four different teams. An All-American at Penn State, Kapinos was signed by the New York Jets as an undrafted rookie in 2007 and has been an NFL nomad ever since. He played for the Green Bay Packers from 2008-2010, with the Indianapolis Colts for one game in 2010, and for the Pittsburgh Steelers from December 2010 through this summer, when he was released after the preseason. Now, Kapinos is cooling his heels in Arlington while waiting for an injury or poor play to put another punter out of commission.

Though Kapinos maintains a home base in Arlington, while he’s signed he will move into an apartment in whatever city he’s playing for. It’s an experience not unlike Kapinos’ childhood. Born an Army brat in West Point, N.Y., Kapinos moved from city to city before his family settled down in Springfield, Va. By the time Kapinos became an All-Met punter for West Springfield High School, he had already attended 8 or 9 different schools.

“I orient to a situation fast,” he said. “I’m used to this routine.”

In Arlington, Kapinos spends much of his time staying in shape. His workout routine consists of running, lifting weights, and punting — usually back at his old high school in Springfield, but occasionally at the fields around Gunston Middle School. At 6’1″ and 235 lbs, Kapinos is an imposing presence. On the field though, he looks like your average punter.

“In relation to the other guys on the field, I look like a shrimp out there,” he admits.

When he’s not working out, Kapinos spends his off-season time golfing, taking care of his bulldog puppy and hanging out with a tight-knit group of friends. On weekends, he can sometimes be spotted at Clarendon Grill, Josephine (in D.C.) or “some place inconspicuous.” What you won’t usually find Kapinos doing on weekends is watching NFL football.

“I don’t really watch,” he says. “I’d rather be playing.”

Kapinos is hoping to get a chance to play soon. He worked out with the New England Patriots last week, but so far no contract offer has been reported. He also practiced with the Baltimore Ravens earlier this month, although that wasn’t so much a job audition as it was a temporary practice squad gig.

After setting a Super Bowl record for average punting yardage with Pittsburgh last season, and after an impressive preseason performance, ESPN.com declared that Kapinos “has a good chance to land somewhere else.” But in the NFL, few things are certain.

“Obviously, I’d like for it to be different, I’d like to be employed,” Kapinos said. “I think I’m good enough to be a guy that punts year round. I led the AFC in punting this preseason and now I’m out of work. It’s a tricky business, but I choose to do it and I love it.”

Kapinos only needs to play a couple more games to get his NFL pension, which would kick in in his early 50s. But even if he doesn’t get a chance to play another professional game, Kapinos says the experience of playing in the NFL has been “out of this world.”

“The benefits of playing in the NFL are tremendous,” he said. “I’ve experienced things in the past four years that are once-in-a-lifetime. It’s a special lifestyle.”

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