ARLINGTON -- Eyes on the football with his helmet tilted slight forward, Texans kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn measures his steps carefully as he sets up his approach for another field goal.
Fairbairn calmly swings his leg, watching every revolution as the football splits the uprights His eyes are fixated on his follow-through, a critical step in his craft.
“Yeah, I just focus on my eyes right now, where my eyes are in my swing and swinging in to out, and that's been the focus for me," Fairbairn said. "Just like where my eyes are at contact. Just like little things, like swing thoughts.”
Signed to a four-year, $17.6 million contract that includes $9 million guaranteed and a $4 million base salary in 2021, the former Lou Groza Award winner from UCLA stays focused on the nuances of kicking to stay sharp and fundamentally sound.
Fairbairn connected on a 87.1 percent, hitting 27 of 31 field goals and 37 of 40 extra points last season. He made a career-high 37 of 42 field goals for 150 points in 2018.
In four NFL seasons, Fairbairn has made 104 of 123 field goals (84.6 percent) and 148 of 161 extra points (91.9 percent). Now, he's adjusting to new special teams coordinator Frank Ross and assistant special teams coach Sean Baker.
“Yes, always a learning process, continuing to learn," Fairbairn said. "We've got a bunch of new coaches in here who have different perspectives, and I'm learning a lot from them. Every little thing, I try to continue to learn and get better at my craft.”
Duenonguaranteed base salaries of $3.55 million ($4.3 million salary-cap figure) and $3.65 million ($4.4 million salary-cap figure) in 2022 and 2023, Fairbairn has a new holder this year in punter Cam Johnston and the same long snapper in former Pro Bowl selection Jon Weeks.
"I've been liking the way things are going a lot through training camp, especially getting the operation right, getting my tempo right," Fairbairn said. "A lot of it just focusing on myself and trusting the other guys around me to do their job, and they always do. I'm looking forward to the season a lot.
"Cam has been awesome. He's very attention to detail, which is all you can ask for in a kicker. Jon puts it on the spot every time. I trust them. It's a hard thing when you are a kicker and you're worried about the snap and hold, and that's not been the case with me. I've just got to worry about my technique and putting it through the uprights.”
Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.