Bucs still looking for the right leg in camp

by Gary Shelton on August 31, 2020

in general

Gay faces competition at kicker./TIM WIRT

Monday, 3 a.m.

Once again, a drafted kicker is fighting for his life with the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Matt Gay, a fifth-round draft pick in 2019, faces the possibility of additional competition in the Bucs' training camp. The team plans to look at Ryan Succop and Cody Parkey, a pair of free-agent kickers, as soon as they clear Covid-19 testing.

Gay, already competing with Elliott Fry for the job, hit 27 of 35 field goals last year and 43 of 48 extra points.

“I’m looking for consistency on the ‘gimmes,' " said head coach Bruce Arians. "We can’t miss extra points. We can’t give away easy points. Kicks

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inside the 30-yard line should be automatic. If you can make a 56 yarder, that’s great. But, when we drive the ball down to the 10 (yard line) and miss a field goal, there’s nothing that tears a team more apart on offense than, ‘Hey, we just took the ball down the field and we didn’t get any points.’

" So, the ‘gimmes’ – who’s the most consistent? If you can do that and still kick 56, 57[-yard field goals], now you’re All-Pro.”

Gay, of course, was supposed to be the answer that Roberto Aguayo, the ill-fated second-round pick of 2016, was not. The Bucs have a history of wayward placekicking since the days of Bill Capece and Mirro Roder.

“Competition is the baseline of the NFL," Gay said. "Everybody’s fighting for a job and if you don’t perform, someone’s right there ready behind you, ready to take your spot. It’s no news to me that guys are in here competing for a shot and they’re going to bring competition in. Competition is going to breed success and I think the potential of our team this year is super high, and I think the kicking position is very important.

"I think, obviously, they’re going to look for who they can feel confident going into the season with. If I come in and do my thing and do my part, I feel confident in myself – and take care of what I’m doing – then that that will be me going into the season.”

Gay said he has adjusted his approach in the off-season.

"I feel really confident," Gay said. "I spent the offseason fixing some stuff and getting used to it, but with COVID it was tough to get a live snap and hold and get some real [opportunities] and things like that. Just taking the new kicking technique that I’m using and getting used to it with snap and hold, a line in front of you and live [reps]. It’s been good. I feel more and more comfortable every day.

“I just shortened it up a little bit – simplified some things, less room for error. Some things that are more repeatable (and) more consistent that I can draw on every day, rep after rep. Just getting more used to it [and] getting more and more confident each and every day.”

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