TAMPA — This was going to be the Bucs preseason when we didn't talk about the kicking.
So much for that.
So much for Chandler Catanzaro?
Not so fast. After missing an extra point in his first try as a Buc, and then a long, late miss that allowed the Miami Dolphins to take a late lead in the teams' preseason opener, a veritable Cataclysm, good ol' CC hit the go-ahead 26-yarder with 23 seconds left, lifting the Bucs to the win.
Only the Bucs and their kickers can make stomach churns in a preseason game. It's a nail-bitter any way you cut it.
That was supposed to be over and done with when Catanzaro signed a three-year, $9.75 million contract this offseason, and was right as rain in training camp. We'd practically forgotten the franchise-embarrassing spectacle that was Roberto Aguayo, or the follow-up disaster that was Nick Folk.
But then Catanzaro, who didn't miss an extra point last season with the New York Jets, missed his first try, and all the hobgoblins reentered Bucs fans' brains. They have an all-access pass.
It's about time we didn't have to think about this, or worry about this, or write or complain about this.
The other day, I was pulled over by a police cruiser for changing lanes without signal. The officer searched my car and found two kicker columns in the trunk. I'm out on bail.
Kicking needs to be the last thing the Bucs and their head coach, Dirk Koetter, should be worrying about. Koetter already has his two-headed quarterback to deal with, though it should be noted that FitzWinston looked pretty good in Miami.
The Bucs need to be worried about all those new faces on the defensive line add up to a pass rush. They need to worry about whether they have two good cornerbacks for the season, and I'm not sure they do.
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But we shouldn't be worried over the kicking. The Bucs have spent far too much time and treasure on that in recent years.
It's a joke that there has been little or no normalcy at kicker since Matt Bryant was cut, and it becomes even funnier as Bryant kicks on and on. Bryant getting the heave is Bucs kicking's answer to Doug Williams being run out of town.
Don't you find yourself thinking about the kicking every time a Bucs kicker runs out on the field? We thought we were done with that with Catanzaro's arrival. Thought we were done with it with Folk's arrival. Thought it was a problem solved even after the Bucs reached too high for Aguayo in the draft.
We should have reached the point where a field goal amounts to "move along, nothing to see here." That's how it should work. That's how it works with a lot of NFL teams. But not with this NFL team.
First shot out of the box.
Will it ever end?
Contact Martin Fennelly at [email protected] or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly