Records? Bucs' Bryan Anger will wait until last punt lands
By all measures, Bryan Anger has had the best season ever for a Bucs punter, a Pro Bowl alternate on course to reset franchise records for punting average and net punting average.
But don't expect him to come close to celebrating until the final punt of the season is downed by his teammates.
Anger has been here before. As a rookie with the Jaguars in 2012, Anger had a net average of 42.3 yards, which would be a Jacksonville record, but in the final game of a long season, the Titans' Darius Reynaud returned two of his punts 69 and 81 yards, so Anger wound up with a 14.4-yard net, and his season net dropped to 40.8.
"We weren't doing as well as we are doing here, we were like 2-and-whatever and guys just kind of shut down," Anger said. "I ended up losing like 1.7 yards on my average in one game, so we have to finish off strong. Putting a full year together like that is awesome. It's cool to see that we're up there in the top as a team."
Carolina, for what it's worth, hasn't had a punt return longer than 19 yards this season -- only two teams out of 32 have shorter season longs -- and the Bucs have been among the NFL's best in limiting opponents' punt returns. Opponents are averaging just 5.6 yards per return, fourth-lowest in the NFL.
Anger already has a Bucs season record with 32 punts downed inside the 20, and barring a surprise Sunday, he'll have the two major punting records as well. Josh Bidwell has the punting average record with 45.6 yards in 2005 and Anger enters Sunday's game at 45.9; Michael Koenen has the net punting average record at 40.3 in 2011 and Anger is at 42.4. His net punting average ranks fourth in the NFL.
Anger is an unrestricted free agent this spring, but has expressed an interest in re-signing with the Bucs after being one of their best signings in 2016.
"(Special teams coordinator) Nate (Kaczor) has done an awesome job," said Anger, praising his gunners in Josh Robinson, Russell Shepard and rookie Ryan Smith. "Guys have been playing well, Nate's done a good job scheming-wise. It's a great system to play in."