Place Kicker: Roberto Aguayo – VS – Nick Folk
Probably the most important battle of training camp after the subpar rookie season of second round pick Roberto Aguayo which cost the Buccaneers at least one win (Raiders game) if not more last season.
Aguayo came in last season as a surprising second round draft pick from Florida State who had not missed a single kick from 0-40 yards in his career.
BUT … he proceeded to miss five of the first eleven field goals of his NFL career and finished the season making 22 out 31 (71%) of his field goals missing nine from 30 yards and beyond.
During Coach Koetter’s season ending presser he said that they are not afraid of moving on from under producing draft pick:
"“As far as the investment in Roberto and where we picked him, we were all on board with that. That’s not going to change. We’re never going to bring that back. That happened and Roberto was our kicker, and like any other player, if he has that Buc jersey on and he’s out there then I’m 100 percent in,” Koetter began. “With that said, our field goal percentage of this year is not good enough. Now that’s not the only stat that’s good enough, but that wasn’t good enough. Jason and I have already talked, and I think it’s all ready proven, that we have no problem moving on from a draft choice and playing somebody who wasn’t drafted. Nothing is a given and if they’re not the best player, then I can be pretty certain in saying they wont be out there.”"
Which lead that Buccaneers to bring in some competition for Aguayo and signed ten year veteran kicker Nick Folk who has made 239 out of 294 (81%) field goals with a career long of 56 yards.
During OTAs and mandatory mini camp the competition of Aguayo and Folk began first on what kicking field goals on skinny posts (goal posts that are thinner but taller then standard) and Per JoeBucsFan.com started rough for Aguayo who went 1 of 4 while Folk went 4 of 4.
During mandatory minicamp field goal practice open to the public Aguayo and Folk both went 4 for 4 from 44 and 52 yards:
Jason Licht commenting on the kicking battle to Jonathan Jones of SI at mandatory minicamp:
"“We evaluate the players every day,” he told SI.com’s Jason Jones recently. “What the media sees is one thing, but the media doesn’t see the everyday battle. That day it was publicized that Roberto missed those field goals on the skinny post and Folk made them. Now over there [on another field in a different practice] is a different story that the media didn’t pick up on. We’re evaluating every kick. “The media doesn’t see the other 10 or 20 kicks that they do per day on the other field. They’re being charted, too. I’m not going to tell you what they are. But if people actually knew how Roberto was doing over there, they wouldn’t have taken the Day 1 report from the skinny posts like they did and made such a big deal of it. But they can only report what they see, and I understand that.” So is there a competition for the kicking job or is it Aguayo’s to lose? “Roberto is actually getting better,” Licht said. “And we’re excited that he actually has progressed from where he was from last year.”"
My guess as this battle will go right to the end and maybe even longer if the Buccaneers decide to keep two kickers into the season, but highly doubtful that they would use a roster spot on two kickers.
Those are the main battles that we will get to watch during training camp and during HBOs Hard Knocks with a couple of honorable mention ones in Sam linebacker: Devante Bond – VS – Kendall Beckwith and top tight end: Cameron Brate – VS – O.J. Howard.
What training camp battles are you planning to pay attention to during training camp and Hard Knock?
Feel free to comment on who you think is going to win these battles in the comments sections or to me directly on Twitter @ND1Bucsfan.