Saturday, February 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' Aguayo got early taste of pressure of kicking in NFL

TAMPA — Roberto Aguayo kept his head down and tried to stay calm under pressure. But the more the rookie was questioned about the doubters, the ones who believe no placekicker is worth a second-round draft pick, the more his real feelings bubbled to the surface.

The interrogation came in late June, two months before Aguayo would bonk an extra point, his first NFL kick, off the right upright in a preseason opener at Philadelphia, before he would miss two field goals at Jacksonville, before he would miss three more kicks in practice this week against the Browns, including a duck hook that looked like it went off the toe of a 3-wood instead of off the foot of an All-America kicker at Florida State.

"What was it like, you getting drafted here and (people) saying you shouldn't have been picked as high as you were?'' Hall of Fame linebacker and former FSU star Derrick Brooks asked Aguayo during the Bucs' rookie symposium. "How did you feel?''

"I was excited. I was okay with it,'' Aguayo said. "Ready to do my job.'

Brooks: "You felt (ticked) off, don't lie to me! 'How can they question me?' You felt (ticked) off, don't lie to me! 'How can they not think I deserve this? I'm going to show them.' That's what you were thinking, weren't you? 'I can't wait to get down there, I get to kick in Florida, I know what it's like.' C'mon, man, talk to me. That's what you felt. Huh?''

Aguayo: "Yeah.''

Brooks: "Then when you got here, you were nervous, thinking … all these veterans and I'm the only kicker here. Yeah. Tell me. Huh?''

Aguayo: "I wanted people to know that, I feel like they already know, and it's not just because I'm a kicker, but I know what I'm capable of. I know what I can do. Yeah, there was a little anger. But at the end of the day, I'm here, I'm doing what I'm doing, and I'm not going to be watching what they're doing.''

Brooks: "Wondering how you're going to fit in?''

Aguayo: "Uh-huh."

Brooks: "Then you felt, 'Well, Jameis (Winston) is down there. I'm going to be all right.' C'mon, that's the conversation we ought to have.''

The conversation about Aguayo, the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, has become a national one.

In tonight's preseason home opener against the Browns, no player will be more scrutinized than Aguayo, who still has time to straighten out his kicks and career before the Bucs open the regular season at Atlanta on Sept. 11.

Aguayo was booed by a few thousand Bucs fans when his struggles continued in practice this week. But his coaches and teammates are firmly supporting the 22-year-old, who did not miss a kick inside 40 yards in three seasons at FSU.

The Bucs created the pressure Aguayo has felt since draft day by taking him in the second round, the highest selection of a kicker since the Jets took Mike Nugent in the second round in 2005.

"The pressure you feel coming into the NFL is so significant, you can cut it with a knife,'' said Mark Royals, who punted and held for placekicks for 15 seasons in the NFL. "(Aguayo) comes into the situation with even more pressure because it's such a rarity for a kicker to be drafted that high. (The Bucs) were sort of rolling the dice."

Royals said that more narrow hash marks and having harder K footballs to kick are adjustments from the college game, and they can fray at a kicker's confidence to the point where it's hard to recapture.

"When you lose your edge mentally, when you start thinking about things and second-guessing, you're done,'' Royals, 51, said.

Browns kicker Patrick Murray, who was picked up by Bucs in 2014 as an undrafted rookie, said the transition from college to the NFL can be an issue.

"For me personally, I came from a place where there were a thousand people in the stands,'' said Murray, who played in college at Fordham. "That can be a transition as well. I just try to keep it the same. I don't complicate things. My dad and I work well together. He's my coach. He taught me how to kick a ball. It's the way you learned. (Aguayo will) be fine.

"If you don't have confidence in yourself, you shouldn't be on the field.''

The Bucs plan to ride out the preseason with Aguayo as their lone kicker. They have too much invested in him to give his job away, and really, all that counts is what he does in the regular season. Royals said the Bucs should put as much pressure on him as possible in practice and games.

"Eventually he has to snap out of it,'' Royals said. "You know how they handle situations like this when a player isn't performing? You know what they do? They get on the phone and find someone who can.''

Contact Rick Stroud at [email protected]tampabay.com.

Comments
Jameis Winston is about to get a big pay raise. It will cost the Bucs more than money

Jameis Winston is about to get a big pay raise. It will cost the Bucs more than money

TAMPA – Jameis Winston is heading for a big payday with the Bucs. He's played well enough to make that an easy decision.But what impact will that have on the type of players they surround him with?The Bucs are expected to exercise the fifth-yea...
Published: 02/16/18
Bucs interview Brentson Buckner for defensive line job

Bucs interview Brentson Buckner for defensive line job

The Bucs continue to move quickly with the defensive line opening on Dirk Koetter's coaching staff, interviewing former Cardinals assistant Brentson Buckner.Buckner, 46, spent the last five years as Arizona's defensive line coach, leading the unit to...
Published: 02/16/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston investigation, Lightning trade possibilities, more

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston investigation, Lightning trade possibilities, more

It’s a Mailbag Friday as Rick Stroud answers your questions, including what will happen with the Jameis Winston investigation, who should the Bucs sign in free agency and would Warren Sapp make a good defensive line coach?Also, who will win more game...
Published: 02/16/18
Kevin Pamphile on Bucs’ O-line: ‘We’re not far from breaking through’

Kevin Pamphile on Bucs’ O-line: ‘We’re not far from breaking through’

Free agency is less than a month away, and the Bucs have several decisions to make about unrestricted free agents from their 2017 squad. One is Kevin Pamphile, who started all but one game at left guard last season but still split the job with backup...
Published: 02/16/18
Jameis Winston’s ‘Eat a W’ ritual lives on at Florida State

Jameis Winston’s ‘Eat a W’ ritual lives on at Florida State

Jameis Winston's pregame "Eat a 'W'" speech didn't go over too well the last time he gave it in front of the cameras and teammates.Before the Bucs-Saints game in New Orleans on Nov. 5, Winston formed a "W" with the fingers on his right hand and proce...
Published: 02/15/18
Browsing the Bucs’ needs and possible free-agent answers

Browsing the Bucs’ needs and possible free-agent answers

No sooner had the Bucs 5-11 season ended than coach Dirk Koetter identified the two areas his team needed to improve for 2018."I think we were 3-7 in one score games. You're going to have a hard time getting where you want to go when you win 30 perce...
Published: 02/15/18
Free agency preview: Brate, Humphries lead Bucs’ restricted free agents

Free agency preview: Brate, Humphries lead Bucs’ restricted free agents

NFL free agency is now just a month away, and as we begin the process of previewing the 2018 free agent class, we'll start with a less prominent part that is still relevant for the Bucs this year: restricted free agents.Unrestricted free agents have ...
Published: 02/14/18
Derrick Brooks to sign autographs at sub shop for charity

Derrick Brooks to sign autographs at sub shop for charity

A Tampa sub shop is offering fans a deal to help raise funds for former Bucs linebacker and Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks' charity efforts.From Feb. 21 to Feb. 25 next week, the Jersey Mike's shop at 14839 North Dale Mabry Highway (inters...
Published: 02/13/18
The Bucs pass rush was so bad, Dirk Koetter sacked his friend

The Bucs pass rush was so bad, Dirk Koetter sacked his friend

TAMPA – It was friendly fire. The decision by Bucs coach Dirk Koetter to terminate a guy he's been buddies with for nearly 40 years was not an easy one. But defensive line coach Jay Hayes was let go last Friday, an apparent fall guy for the 5-1...
Published: 02/12/18
Updated: 02/13/18
Bucs D-line coach name to watch: former Colts DC Ted Monachino

Bucs D-line coach name to watch: former Colts DC Ted Monachino

The surprising firing of defensive line coach Jay Hayes on Friday is one that was difficult for Bucs coach Dirk Koetter.Not only had the Bucs picked up  the one-year club option on Hayes' contract, he and Koetter go back nearly 40 years when the...
Published: 02/12/18