It’s not a good time to be a veteran kicker with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
First, Nate Kaeding was signed by the team, and soon thereafter retired due to an inability to overcome chronic injuries that caused the once accurate kicker to hit the waiver wire. But Connor Barth was still around, so the Buccaneers were good, right?
Not really. Barth tore his Achilles at a charity basketball game, ending his season before it even began. So the Buccaneers lost two veteran kickers before a single player put toe to leather in training camp with the team.
Lawrence Tynes was signed off the scrap heap, as the experienced, Super Bowl winning kicker was without a team after being let go by the New York Giants. He showed some inconsistencies, but has experience and has made important kicks in his career. So the Buccaneers are good to go finally, right?
Not exactly. Tynes has been dealing with a foot issue in camp so far, according to Stephen Holder of the Tampa Bay Times, and might miss the first preseason game on Thursday against the Baltimore Ravens. So that’s three kickers down. Is there anyone left who can kick a football for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
There is, and his name is Derek Dimke.
Dimke was an undrafted free agent who was signed after the 2012 NFL Draft, but never played in an NFL game. He bounced from the Lions to the Jets, and never caught on, so he was brought to Tampa to replace Kaeding as the “competition” for Connor Barth. Now he could be in line to be the starting kicker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on opening day.
So who is Derek Dimke?
He’s the all-time best kicker in the history of the University of Illinois, in terms of accuracy. In his three seasons as a kicker, he never missed any of his 89 extra points, and was 39 of 46 on his field goals. Dimke only missed two field goals under 40 yards during his college career (and they could have been blocked, it’s hard to verify these things after the fact), and proved he could make from 48-52 yards over the course of his time in Champaign.
He was a reliable kicker who eventually earned national recognition in college, and was held back by a lack of scoring opportunities for his Illini. He was also a solid kickoff taker, which won’t help right away with the Buccaneers, but it is a valuable skill if he were to want to stick around in the NFL.
So much like Kai Forbath a year ago, Dimke has a chance to stand out with the Buccaneers this preseason as a kicker. But unlike Forbath, who was never going to make the roster ahead of Connor Barth, Dimke has a real chance to outkick the shaky leg (and apparently injured foot) of Lawrence Tynes.